Draft budget increase down to 2.36 %

John Christensen

By John Christensen

The Chronicle-Express

PENN YAN — Penn Yan Central School Superintendent Howard Dennis told the Board of Education he and Assistant Superintendent for Business Cathy Milliman have managed to reduce the increase in next year’s budget by almost a third – from 3.17 percent to 2.36 percent.

This latest draft of the proposed budget is progress toward the goal of coming in below the state imposed tax levy increase cap of 0.73 percent. Dennis and Milliman are looking for more ways to economize while still preserving the quality of education, he says.

With that in mind, a survey was distributed via the school newsletter which received 120 responses. The survey asked if budget and tax increases for the schools in the past have been fair. According to Dennis, the response was “yes” 96 percent, “no” 4 percent. A second question, asking if the respondent would approve of a budget that exceeded the tax cap but came in under 2 percent, was answered “yes” 86 percent, “no” 14 percent.

Dennis also proposes a proposition to purchase four 65-passenger buses to replace those that are aging out. The $460,000 cost would receive 52.4 percent aid in the 5-year bond cycle. Dennis says repairs on the older buses become too frequent and too costly, so they should be replaced while aid is available. This will be a separate item at the next public school vote.

The income eligibility sliding scale for tax abatement will remain in place for the next budget year.

Other business at the Feb. 10 school board meeting included:

• The PYMS Poppy Committee presented a report on their cross-curricular project in the 7th grade art and social studies classes. The students will make ceramic poppies inspired by those of a large memorial art installation by English artist Paul Cummins at the Tower of London. The finished poppies will be sold for $10 each, displayed at the War Memorial in Court House Square on Memorial Day, and the money raised will be donated to veterans’ organizations.

• The school principals made their mid-year data reports. Elementary Principal Edward Foote says math performance growth has been strong, and they will focus on English language arts (ELA) to improve performance there. Staff development has also proven popular with the teachers. Middle School Principal Kelly Johnson reported strong growth figures for both ELA and math, and they will focus more on writing. Academy Principal David Pullen says the focus there will also be on writing, but he is pleased to report PYA placed 5th in the region for Regents test performance. When the multiple, optional English Regents figures are excluded, Pullen reports the school placed second, just behind top ranked Victor.