School budget shows 3.46 percent levy increase
PENN YAN—The Penn Yan school board announced during their first public budget forum Wednesday, Feb. 13 their draft budget contains a 3.46 percent increase in the tax levy and the elimination of eight positions for the 2013-14 school year. The $32,380,759 total draft budget is up $688,260 from the 2012-13 budget of $31,692,499.
The draft budget was down from the rollover budget presented in January, which contained a tax levy increase of 7.62 percent. The positions to be eliminated include one library clerk position and two elementary school teacher positions which will be vacated by retirement. The budget also includes the loss of three teacher assistants due to individualized education programs (IEP). There will also be the removal of a full-time science and social studies teacher from the middle school due to low enrollment. The total savings from these position cuts is $328,000.
Superintendent David Hamilton said this is a budget that maintains current programs and actually makes things better for the students. He said it is not the levy he would have hoped for but he said as a starting point, he is pretty happy with what they can give the kids at this budget amount. Hamilton said he has done as much as possible to try to reduce the impact on teachers.
During the public budget forum, several teachers and board members agreed there needed to be some change in class scheduling. Hamilton said the way most high schools work is based off of a system more than 100 years old, and maybe having a little more instructional time in classes like science, art and math may be beneficial to both the students and teachers. He also said he did not know exactly how adjusting the schedule would affect staffing costs. Going forward, he said he wants to make sure children are getting a good education while not causing too large of a tax levy increase.
In other business:
• Hamilton discussed a settlement agreement reached with Charles Roach during a special meeting Saturday, Feb. 2, the former facilities and technology director, whose position was eliminated as a result of a shared services study as a way to save costs. There had been harassment charges filed against Roach, as well as a harassment charge filed against Hamilton by Roach. Hamilton said he wanted to make clear there is no connection between the shared services study and the settlement reached with Roach.
• The Penn Yan Teacher’s Association (PYTA) discussed a survey sent out to teachers in the district which asked the staff how they think budget cuts have affected teachers, students and programs. The results of the survey shows teachers have seen a substantial increase in workload and more out of pocket expenses to purchase classroom supplies. The results also show teachers believe students are feeling the stress, are receiving less one on one time with teachers, get less skill developments beyond what is mandated and behavior incidents have increased as a result. The results show 73 percent of those surveyed would support a tax levy increase of greater than 2 percent, and 55 percent said they would support a tax levy increase of greater than 3 percent.
• Members of the Penn Yan Academy musical production of Into the Woods sang two songs for the board members during the meeting. Director Anne Wunder said the musical will be held Thursday, March 7 through Sunday, March 10, with show times at 7 p.m. March 7, 8 and 9 with a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday. She said there will also be an act one only performance for children at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 9.