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Residents to vote on proposed 2018-19 budget

Overview

On Tuesday, May 15, Monticello Central School District’s residents will vote on an $89,826,369 proposed budget for the 2018-19 school year, and elect three members to the Board of Education. The proposed budget, which includes a 0.74 percent increase in the tax levy, is below the district’s tax levy limit of 0.81 percent.

As always, the district considers four goals as it develops the spending plan: the academic success of students, fiscal responsibility, maintaining and enhancing district facilities and creating a culture of kindness and respect.

With these goals at the forefront of the budget development process, the spending plan is below the tax levy limit, maintains all current programs and positions and is at a similar tax levy level as it was in 2013.

Academic Success/Culture of Kindness

The Monticello Central School District recognizes the inextricable link between social and emotional wellness and academic success, and utilizes many strategies and programs to strengthen this link.

In the 2017-18 school year, the district added new initiatives to its repertoire of supports. Some of these initiatives include “My Brother’s Keeper”, a grant-funded program that provides experiences, academic support and opportunities to improve outcomes for students of color. Students in the My Brother’s Keeper program have visited colleges, participated in the Sullivan County “DreamTank” youth initiative and act as peer mentors and role models to younger students.

The program also seeks to strengthen the relationship between the community and school, hosting events for the two to connect.
This year, the district also implemented its “life-ready” initiative, incorporating one of the district’s seven student, teacher and community-identified “life-ready” skills into lessons and student life each month. These seven skills are: collaboration, integrity, responsibility, goal-getting, tenacity, collaboration and communication.

Administrators in each building and department have implemented programs and solutions to help lead the district towards its goals.
The proposed spending plan preserves all of the district’s existing programs and academic supports.

“We have the monumental responsibility of shaping this community for generations to come through the development of students who are inspired to change the world, and who are equipped with the skills to do so,” Superintendent of Schools Tammy Mangus said. “At the same time, we are keenly cognizant of the economic challenges that many in our community face, which is why we are relentless in pursuing opportunities to maximize student potential, while minimizing costs to taxpayers.”

Fiscal Responsibility

A district’s budget is comprised of revenues and expenses. Expenses are the costs associated with the running of the district, and revenues are the sources of money that the district utilizes to pay the expenses. The two major sources of revenue for any school district are state aid and property taxes.

budget chartSince the 2014-15 school year, the district administration has employed numerous strategies to maximize all state revenue sources. In the 2018-19 proposed budget plan, the district saw a $4 million increase in state aid as well as more than a $1 million increase in other revenue sources, such as PILOTs (Payments in Lieu of Taxes), including one from the newly-opened casino. The district also utilized a portion of its fund balance to offset taxpayer burdens. The tax levy, or the portion of the revenue that is the responsibility of the taxpayers, has increased this year by $320,000.

Because of these strategies, the percentage of the budget that the levy funds has progressively decreased by nearly 10 percent since 2014, while the percentage of the budget funded by state aid has increased by seven percent. In 2014, state aid comprised 36.92 percent of revenue sources, while the tax levy comprised 62.97 percent. In the 2018-19 proposed budget plan, the tax levy funds 52.06 percent of the budget while state aid funds 43.2 percent, and the district expects this trend to continue into the future (see chart, left).

Maintaining and Enhancing District Facilities

The district’s buildings and facilities are in need of significant repair, including new heating and cooling systems, storm water management, roofing, electrical systems and ventilation.

In April 2018, the MCSD proposed a capital improvement project which would have corrected all health and safety items throughout the district and substantially upgraded all district buildings and athletic fields. Voters rejected the proposal with 951 “no” to 879 “yes” votes.

Although the proposed budget reallocates a portion of the general fund budget in anticipation of any emergency repairs that might arise during the 2018-19 school year, please note that any funds expended beyond $100K would not receive state aid. Click here for more information.

Over the next four to six months, the district will work with its architectural firm to review and prioritize critical repairs. It hopes to present a revised capital improvement proposal for the board’s consideration and if approved, to place the new proposal before voters in the fall of 2018. In order to maintain the levy within the tax cap calculation, the district must have an approved capital improvement project by the May 2019 budget vote.