School budget adds options

Gwen Chamberlain

The Penn Yan School Board will be seeking voter approval to spend $36.2 million to provide education to Penn Yan students in the 2019-2020 school year. The proposed budget adds STEM opportunities for elementary and academy students, a reading specialist, and a support staff in the middle school.

To accomplish that, the school district needs to collect nearly $19 million in local property taxes, a 2.28 percent increase over this year’s tax levy. The current state-mandated tax cap is 2.33 percent.

The board approved the proposed budget April 10, agreeing to use $400,000 in fund balance and $625,000 in reserves. The district expects to receive $15.3 million in state aid.

More than 52 percent of the revenues come from the local property tax revenues and more than 42 percent comes from state aid sources.

The spending plan includes the addition of opportunities for students, offset by savings from reduced retirement costs. The additions include:

• Extension of hands-on STEM activities to all Penn Yan Elementary grades.

• The addition of online STEM courses that are not currently available for Penn Yan Academy students.

• Another elementary reading specialist

• A support center position at Penn Yan Middle School

• Continue the part time School Resource Officer position at the elementary school

• Employee Assistance Program, which had been cut in a previous year. Superintendent Howard Dennis says with the social, emotional, and mental health issues school staff are encountering more frequently, a support system is vital for employees.

Nearly half —48.75 percent or $17.7 million — of the budget is dedicated to instruction. Almost one quarter — 22.63 percent or $8.2 million — is earmarked for benefits, while 13 percent or $4.7 million will be spent on debt service, and 10. 17 percent is spent on general support.

Total spending reflects a 0.65 percent increase ($233,270) over the current year.

Voters will also be asked to approve spending $455,000 for the purchase of four buses — one for 42 passengers and three for 65 passengers, one with a luggage compartment.

Voters will also elect three board members when they go to the polls May 21.

School district residents will receive a budget newsletter in early May, and a public hearing will be held May 8, when a meet the candidate event will also be held. Budget information sessions will be held in April and May.