Annual School Budget & Board Member Vote Set for Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 2-9 pm, Bulkeley Middle School Cafeteria; State-Required Budget Hearing Scheduled for Tuesday, May 14 at 7:00 pm in the BMS/RHS Library
Annual School Budget and Board Member Vote Set for Tuesday, May 21, 2019, from 2 to 9 pm, at the Bulkeley Middle School Cafeteria; Proposed 2019-20 Budget Again Stays Within the State’s Tax Levy Cap Limit While Preserving, Maintaining, and Enhancing Student Programs and Services
At their Regular meeting on April 9, 2019, the Rhinebeck Board of Education adopted a proposed budget of $35,005,961 for the 2019-20 school year. The proposed expenditure plan represents a budget-to-budget increase of 3.2% over the current year's budget. The State-required Budget Hearing will be held at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. Voting on the 2019-20 budget, as well as to fill three (3) three-year vacancies on the Board of Education will be held in the Bulkeley Middle School cafeteria from 2:00 to 9:00 pm on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 for registered school district voters. A digital copy of the 2019-20 District Budget Brochure, “The Rhinebeck Resource,” can be accessed by clicking on the following link: http://www.rhinebeckcsd.org/tinymce/js/tinymce/plugins/moxiemanager/data/files/4000_final.pdf . Budget 101, a primer on the New York State school district budget process, can be found at www.rhinebeckcsd.org/budget , where the link is the secodn item at the top of the page.
The proposed 2019-20 budget will increase the tax levy by 3.63%, an increase that is within the parameters of New York State's tax levy cap legislation. According to that legislation, a simple majority of the voters (50% + 1) is required for passage.
Objectives - The Board of Education and the administrative staff have developed the proposed budget in an effort to balance anticipated expenditure increases with a dedication to maintaining the quality of education that the community expects and deserves for its children and its future. Passage of the proposed 2019-20 school budget will benefit the District by:
- improving the District’s financial position to remain within the tax levy cap limit in 2019-20 and in future years;
- maintaining staffing levels that support current programs/services for students;
- enhancing programs and services with an eye toward sustainability in future years; and
- continuing to provide programs and services for which Rhinebeck schools are known both regionally and nationally.
Challenges - As all New York State school districts enter the eighth year of the New York State tax levy cap legislation, reductions due to gradual but steadily declining enrollment have provided our school district with some fiscal relief, along with a minimal increase in State Foundation Aid for 2019-20. In addition, conservative but carefully considered fiscal planning, including a commitment to reducing staffing whenever possible by not replacing staff members who leave the District as a result of retirements or for other reasons, and other budgeting economies, will allow the school district to sustain the same level of nationally recognized educational services that residents have come to expect for their children and their community.
Nevertheless, the Rhinebeck Central School District is considered by New York State as a “low needs/high wealth” school district, by applying a State formula based upon personal incomes and property values. As a result, State Foundation Aid to our school district has not kept pace, over the course of many years, not just recently, with expenditures such as rising health insurance costs, mandated special education services, employee retirement system support, and other financial obligations, which are necessary but largely beyond the school district’s control. However, in spite of these challenges, the proposed 2019-20 budget will continue to maintain high-achieving schools, exemplary programs, and successful students, as determined by any measure.
Our Schools - Budget planning for 2019-20 continues to provide:
- reasonable student-teacher ratios in the District’s elementary, middle, and high school;
- ongoing local curriculum development and professional training initiatives to reinforce rigorous academic standards for all students; and
- resources for increased student and staff access to technology to enhance teaching and learning.
The District continues to maintain a wide variety of opportunities for student engagement and success, both within and outside the classroom, through careful assessment of how these programs support student learning. Local and regional programs at all grade levels will continue with the ongoing approval of the community. These include:
- collaborations with Bard and Marist Colleges in the arts and the sciences;
- partnerships with area Arts-In-Education organizations such as the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Project and the Education Network for Teachers and Artists that enrich the curriculum;
- locally-developed field trips;
- before-and after-school enrichment, extra-help and club activities; and
- a robust interscholastic athletic program that meets student interests and skills.
The Board also acknowledges the ongoing support of community groups, including the Rhinebeck PTSO, the Rhinebeck Science Foundation, and CultureConnect, whose work helps to enrich the educational experiences of Rhinebeck students in so many diverse and meaningful ways.
The school district’s cumulative K-12 successes are evidenced by a number of outcomes:
- over 90% of Rhinebeck students graduate each year, and more than 90% of those diploma recipients indicate post-graduation plans that include two-year or four-year college attendance;
- Rhinebeck High School again this year has been recognized by US News and World Report as one of the “Best High Schools” in New York State and in the United States; and
- The Washington Post again this year has named Rhinebeck High School as one of the nations "Most Challenging High Schools."
Forward Thinking and Community Engagement: Keys to the Future Success of Rhinebeck’s Schools -
Toward the end of the 2017-18 school year, the Rhinebeck Central School District extended an invitation to community stakeholders to participate in a Citizens Advisory Committee on Long Range Planning (CAC-LRP). A group of volunteer school and community respondents was formed to assist the Board of Education in identifying innovative and creative solutions as part of a cohesive strategy to continue to provide high-quality, comprehensive programs and services to the community’s children. The current challenges to many New York State school districts to meeting this goal are posed by declining enrollment, limited financial support from New York State, and the limits on local financial support of elementary and secondary education allowed under the New York’s tax levy cap limit legislation.
The CAC-LRP has met a number of times during this school year and has provided the Board of Education with their best thinking in pursuit of those goals that will lead to the formulation of a long-range plan to address those challenges. The Board is currently engaged in the process of reviewing, discussing, and researching the ideas generated by the CAC-LRP for inclusion in a three-to-five year long-range plan to guide the school district to future viability and success.
Board of Education Openings – In terms of Board of Education member representation, incumbent Steve Jenkins, and community members Matthew Van Wormer and Jacqueline Raccuia, have submitted duly executed petitions for election to the three (3) Board of Education seats that are open this year, each for a three year term. These choices will be included on the May 21st ballot, along with the 2019-20 school budget proposal.
The Vote - If approved by a simple majority (50% + 1) of the voters on May 21st, this proposed budget will continue to provide high quality educational and extracurricular experiences for the community’s children. If the vote is not approved, the Board has the option, by law, either to submit a reduced budget or to submit the same budget for a second vote. The failure of a second budget vote to pass will result in a contingency budget which will drive a .31% budget decrease and a 0% tax levy increase. In order to operate within the limits of a contingency budget, staff reductions, along with related reductions in programs, and/or services, would inevitably be required.
All qualified, registered voters are encouraged to exercise their right and responsibility to participate in the school budget vote and Board of Education member election, which will be held in the Bulkeley Middle School cafeteria from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21st. Please feel free to contact your School Board members or District administrators with any questions you might have. The Board of Education and District leaders thank you for your interest in, and your ongoing support of, the Rhinebeck schools.
Laura Schulkind, President, 876-8253, [email protected]
Diane Lyons, Vice-President, 266-8861, [email protected]
Mark Fleischhauer, Trustee, 876-5311, [email protected]
Stephen Jenkins, Trustee, 876-0758, [email protected]
Elizabeth Raum, Trustee, 663-4787, [email protected]
Jaclyn Savolainen, Trustee, 876-7334, [email protected]
Lisa Rosenthal, Trustee, 917-620-4572, [email protected]