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Penn Yan adopts new school budget

PENN YAN--The Penn Yan school board voted to adopt the proposed 2016-17 budget during their Wednesday, April 13 meeting. Superintendent Howard Dennis and Assistant Superintendent for Business Cathy Milliman gave the board a final update on the budget, which will total $34,641,298. The public will have a chance to comment on the adopted budget during a budget hearing May 4 at 7 p.m.prior to the regular board meeting in the elementary cafeteria. The public will then vote on the budget during the May 17 election from noon to 8 p.m. in the Penn Yan Academy gymnasium.
Milliman said the budget-to-budget numbers showed a 3.08 increase from the current year, indicating a $1,033,772 total increase. This will result in a tax levy increase of 1.71 percent, which is within the 1.95 percent allowed under the tax cap.
Dennis said most of the numbers did not significantly change from their last meeting, with Milliman noting the school did get their full Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) amount paid back by the state. This amounted to $371,000. However, the state also adjusted the school's BOCES aid, high cost excess aid and transportation aid, which amounted to a total increase of $215,218 in state aid for the 2016-17 school year.
Along with the budget, district taxpayers will also be voting on a proposition to purchase four new 65-person buses at the cost of $460,000. There will also be three available school board seats up for election.
In other business:
• Elementary Principal Edward Foote spoke about the district's K Train kindergarten readiness project. Foote said they have been working on this for the past two and a half years and are finally ready to launch.
K Train is a partnership between Literacy Volunteers of Ontario and Yates, Yates Community Center, Child and Family Resources and the Penn Yan Central School District. The goal of the project is to get 80 percent of Penn Yan children to arrive in kindergarten with the social, emotional, language and readiness skills to succeed by the year 2020. Foote said there has been a downward trend in readiness. He is hoping the program will encourage parents to read, talk, eat and play with their kids to help them develop those necessary skills.
• Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Staff Development Greg Baker gave the board an update on writing in the district, noting students tend to perform better in multiple-choice questions than they do with short-answer or essay test questions. Some of the strengths he highlighted included the format, voice and use of evidence to support claims, while areas for improvement included grammar, mechanics and the importance of the reading-writing connection. Baker said the district is working on developing more focused writing tasks and appropriate level texts to help improve these areas for improvement.
• School Psychologist David Tese presented on the 8:1:1 program, which began in 2013. He said the district will be graduating their first three students from the program this year, which works with the most challenging special education students in the district with behavioral and emotional needs. Tese said the students work in a traditional high school setting and are given the chance to have traditional class experiences such as home and career classes or theater involvement.

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