Warwick Valley's 2018-19 budget is the focus School Board work session

Photo illustration The Warwick Valley School Board held its first of several 2018-19 school budget work sessions on Jan. 30. Additional workshops, plus a public hearing, will be held prior to the budget vote and school board election on May 15.

WARWICK — The Warwick Valley School Board held its first of several 2018-19 school budget work sessions on Jan. 30.
Superintendent Dr. David Leach led the presentation, laying out the district’s objectives as the board develops the coming school year’s spending plan.
“We approach each budget season with two goals, enhance student opportunities and maintain our commitment to fiscal responsibility,” Leach said. "Throughout the past five school years, the average increase in the tax levy has been 1.67 percent.
Non-tax revenues"The district now generates almost $3.4 million annually from non-tax revenue comprised primarily of tuition and rental payments," the superintendent added. "This revenue helps the district to maintain its strong academic program."
According to Timothy Holmes, the assistant superintendent for business, the district expects to generate:
Approximately $1.7 million in tuition for the 175 to 180 Greenwood Lake students who will attend the High School next year;
More then $300,000 for the rental of the former Kings Elementary School; and
About $140,000 from the BOCES operation at Sanfordville Elementary.
Exit poll: These are the 'essentials'As the budget process continues, administrators and board members will consider the results of a 2017 exit poll of district voters. In the exit poll, respondents identified the items and programs they considered “essential” and include:
• High quality teachers
• Honors/Advanced Placement offerings
• Class size
• Full-day kindergarten
• Up-to-date technology
• Course offerings in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
“These are the things that our community has told us are very important to them, and we need to honor that as we move forward in the budget process,” said Leach.
Current budget: $90.1 millionThe Warwick Valley School District is currently operating under a $90.1 million budget for the 2017-18 school year. Voters approved that budget by a margin of 71.3 percent, with 1,289 yes votes to 519 no votes.
Leach told the school board that creating the school district budget is a year-long process and expenditures, staffing levels, revenue sources and contracts are continuously reviewed.
By January, directors and principals are meeting with central office administrator about their department and building budgets. New programs and course offerings are considered, as are the estimated cost of health and retirement contributions, inflation and state mandates.
Also in January, New York State releases its executive budget proposal, which provides school business officials with an estimate of how much state aid revenue they may anticipate.
Leach noted the rising cost of health insurance, unfunded state mandates and contractual obligations can present a challenge, but Warwick Valley also has many innovative and efficient cost-saving measures in place, including co-operative purchasing, revenue from rental property and the new solar project, which alone will result in about $250,000 in energy costs each year.
InformationOver the course of the budget process information about the spending plan will be posted to the district website (warwickvalleyschools.com).
Information will also be published in local newspapers and the annual Budget Newsletter will be mailed to residents.