By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
GREENVILLE — Greenville voters will head to the polls May 17 to determine the fate of the proposed $33,697,442 school district budget for the 2022-23 academic year.
Voters will also elect two members of the board of education.
A budget hearing was held May 3 and outlined the tentative budget and propositions that will be on the ballot.
“Our proposed budget for this upcoming 2022-23 school year is $33,697,442,” District Superintendent Michael Bennett said. “It is an $811,000 increase, or 2.47%, over last year’s budget. Along with that is the proposed tax levy, with an increased amount of $390,000 roughly and an increase of 2.25% over last year.”
The tax cap limit for the district this year was an increase of 3.56%, but the board and the district kept the increase below that limit, Business Official Janet Maassmann said.
“The property tax cap is a formula that determines the amount property tax can increase, setting a maximum allowable tax limit for voter approval,” Maassmann said. “If the tax increase is equal to or less than the threshold amount, the school budget must pass with 50% plus one or more voters approving the school budget. Our maximum tax levy limit is 3.56%, but the board is proposing a tax levy increase of 2.25%.”
Among the additions to the budget is hiring a staff member to handle district communications, Bennett said.
“There is concern around communication within the school district — among faculty and staff, employees, as well as in the community — so we are looking to add a communication specialist to help with that process of making sure we are being transparent and communicating with our community, and our community is able to work with us,” Bennett said.
The tentative budget also includes technology purchases for student programs and for athletic field maintenance.
“One of the major additions to the budget will be the installation of a dust collector and a ventilation system upgrade for the wood shop to help provide a healthier learning environment for our students,” according to the district’s budget newsletter. “The proposed budget also includes a Herbicide Free Weed Control Sprayer to assist in safely keeping the new athletic facilities free from weeds.”
Stimulus funds provided by the federal government will be used in the upcoming school year to address facility and programming needs, according to the district.
“Federal stimulus funds have been used to upgrade our network closets and power supplies and install additional cameras across the campus to help keep our students safe,” according to the newsletter. “Wireless access points and infrastructure will help us to provide a larger area of coverage for our students and community. The upgrades to many of our systems allows for increased reliability on our technology. Upgrades to our phone system will provide for increased communication both internally and externally.”
Federal stimulus funds will also provide for instructional coaches to support and collaborate with teachers, and programming to address learning loss related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Identified students may receive more intensive tutoring, individually or in a small group setting, focused on the student’s needs as identified by data,” according to the district. “Tutoring addresses missed concepts and skills that are most critical to accessing content.”
The district will also offer summer school programs this year, which will include English Language Arts, math and social-emotional learning, according to the district.
Voters will also elect two members of the board of education on May 17. Incumbents David Finch and Jay Goodman are seeking re-election, and candidates James Bucci, Kevin Bucci, Elaine Dykeman and Dr. Glenn Yelich will be on the ballot. Board of education members serve three-year terms.
Also on the ballot will be the budgets for the Greenville and Rensselaerville public libraries, and district propositions to create a Capital Reserve Fund and to purchase additional school buses as part of the district’s bus replacement cycle.
The Greenville library is seeking a budget increase of $700, and the Rensselaerville library is asking for a budget increase of $563, Bennett said.
Voters will decide on a bus resolution that seeks approval to purchase eight 66-passenger school buses, one 21-passenger school bus and one 19-passenger school bus, at a cost not to exceed $1,256,760.
The district’s buses are well maintained and 100% of them passed a recent inspection, but the district is on a regular replacement schedule, Bennett said.
“Greenville puts a lot of miles on these buses so although they are well-maintained, wear and tear eventually breaks down our buses,” he said.
The May 3 budget hearing drew few comments from the public.
Resident Margaret Kelly thanked the board members for their work on the budget and over the past two years of the pandemic.
“You have had a horrible time during all this COVID stuff, but you have taken this responsibility seriously and worked to keep our community safe, and I really appreciate that,” Kelly said.
She said she supported the bus replacement cycle, which puts the district on a regular bus purchase schedule to keep the fleet up to date.
“I am very pleased to see the bus replacement cycle still in place. The beauty of that is that you keep spending at an even level and you replace those buses every five years,” Kelly said. “That is a ginormous expense, but by using that system that was established by the excellent business office staff many years ago, we keep that spending flat.”
Another resident asked that in the future, the budget newsletter be sent out to the community earlier than this year’s newsletter was distributed.
Voting will take place on Tuesday, May 17, from 1-9 p.m., in the cafeteria of Scott M. Ellis Elementary School on Route 32.