Dundee School costs expected to increase by 10 percent

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

The cost to operate the Dundee Central School is expected to go up by roughly 10 percent next year, according to the financing plan reviewed with the board of education by Business Manager Melissa Lawson.

Lawson presented details about much of the budget at the Feb. 13 board of education meeting.

The spending plan calls for a 5 percent increase in the amount to be raised by local property taxes, even with the use of nearly $1.9 million in reserves and fund balance.

The plan calls for using all of the district’s insurance reserves — $533,000 — and over $430,788 in retirement reserves.

The biggest spending hike is a 38.7 percent increase to $2 million in special education.

Assumptions that are made in the draft budget include wage increases of 3 percent, increased contractual costs of 5 percent, and increases of supplies and materials of 3 percent.

Unknown items are final state aid and grant amounts in addition to some final BOCES costs and administrative wages.

The district presents its plan in four categories:

• Health & Safety Costs ($2.2 million, up about $40,000 from this year)

• Mandated Costs ($6.9 million, up about $750,000)

• Mandated Core Program Costs  (increasing by 11.4 percent to $7.2 million, up about $751,000)

• Non-mandated Program Costs ($269,956, an increase of about $8,000).

In all, the total spending is projected at $16.6 million, up from $15 million.

Budget workshops will be held Feb. 27 and March 5.

Lawson has also projected budgets for 2015-’16 and 2016-’17, when there will be more pressure to tap into reserves, and less fund balance to carry over from year-to-year. At the same time the district’s spending is projected to increase by roughly $928,000 in 2015-16 and another $909,000 in 2016-’17, and total enrollment is expected to decline , from 739 students this year to 737 in 2014-’15; 715 in 2015-’16; and 691 in 2016-’17.

Other business at the Feb. 13 meeting included:

• BIDS: The board unanimously accepted bids from three contractors for Phase III of the capital project which includes work on the roof, cooling system upgrades, asbestos removal, new flooring, ceiling and wall finishes in some portions of the building. Work will begin in early April, says Lawson.

• CONTRACT: The board unanimously approved a three-year contract with the Dundee Teachers Association which grants a 3 percent salary increase in the first year and concessions in health care premiums, according to Halbert. The contract is effective from July 1 through June 30, 2017.

• VETERAN’S EXEMPTIONS: The board tabled action on changes to the Real Property Tax Law that would grant a 15 percent reduction in assessed value for property owned by a veteran, and additional reductions for veterans who served in combat. There was discussion of having a straw vote on the proposal in July.

• GRANT: Interim Superintendent Laurie Halbert reported on a grant application for up to $1.4 million in funding for math and science collaboration with the University of Rochester and Cornell University. She said Dundee is one of six school districts in the Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES region that qualifies for the competitive grant that could pay for professional teacher development.

• CAREER CHOICES: Jr./Sr. High Principal Chris Arnold and Guidance Counselor Jen Hutches presented details about Career Choices, a program that guides students through a 10-year planning process that begins in their freshman year of high school. Arnold said the program helps students identify who they are, what they want, and what they need to do to get there. School Board President Jim Koehler said he hopes the program will help administrators and board members determine what programs the school district needs to offer.