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Dundee within cap for new budget

DUNDEE--The Dundee Central School District may have to operate within a 0.5 percent allowable tax levy increase for the 2016-17 school year. School Business Official Melissa Lawson presented preliminary budget details to the school board during their regular meeting Thursday, Feb. 11, where she indicated the projected tax levy increase for next school year would be right at the 0.5 percent mark. The school anticipates the total property tax levy to be $5,046,000, which is up $23,000 from last year.
School Board President James Koehler said the programs are essentially the same as last year, noting should the board choose to exceed the tax cap, it would mainly impact the amount of reserves being used by the district to offset the levy. Lawson said the projected 2016-17 budget includes $2,006,634 to reduce the levy.
"I certainly don't see any reason to exceed it at this point," Koehler said.
Lawson reviewed both the mandated core program and the non-mandated aspects of the projected budget during the meeting. One of the notable non-mandated changes she discussed included the district's driver education course. Lawson said while the district had it budgeted for the summer 2015-16 school year, the district did not have the course because the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) could not provide the instructors. Because of this, Lawson said the district is currently training two staff members to become certified driving instructors, which is reflected in the 40.8 percent increase in that part of the budget. This is a $12,118 increase from 2015-16, which also includes small increases in gas and supplies.
In the mandated portion of the budget, Lawson discussed the movement of their summer school program to within the district. Previously, Dundee collaborated with the Penn Yan and Marcus Whitman districts to host their summer school program in Penn Yan. In the 2016-17 budget, Lawson stated the district will now be holding their summer school program in-district, amounting to a $37,410 (127.1 percent) increase from the 2015-16 year.
Lawson also highlighted the implementation of the multi-year individualized learning (IL) initiative and the implementation of the digital learning platform to compliment the IL initiative. The IL initiative focuses on bringing more personalized education to district students. Lawson said the focus of 2016-17 will be to implement the IL program for all students and introduce a digital curriculum platform to support the initiative. These programs amount to a $138,406 increase from the current year, an 86.5 percent increase. Lawson noted certain compromises were made with staffing at the elementary level and reducing other professional development items in the budget to account for these initiatives.
Lawson noted some of the budget numbers were still in flux, as she is still not sure where the district will fare with state aid. The board will meet again March 10 to review the final budget summary, while the anticipated budget adoption is expected at their April 14 meeting. The public will then vote on the proposed budget May 17.

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