|Budget FAQ 3 - May 3, 2013|
The following is the last in a series of FAQs and answers related to the school budget. Please recall that these are being distributed in an incremental basis prior to the School Budget vote through the Superintendent’s eNewsletter medium in an effort to enhance understanding. If you would like to see the full listing of FAQs and the responses, please visit the school website at www.weedsport.org and click on the Quick Link entitled Budget Info 2013-2014 to access such.
“Is the District pursuing eLearning opportunities for students?”
As technology evolves we are always hoping to engage students in other modes of learning and our District seeks to advance opportunities to our learners for their benefit. With regards to eLearning, in 2012 – 2013 four students completed half-year, elective classes in the fall, two enrolled in full year courses, and two others are enrolled in a total of three, half-year classes in the spring. Additionally, we had fourteen students enrolled in the half-year Personal Finance on-line class. Our primary goal is to engage our students in the on-line learning format at the high school level before they are faced with this requirement post-secondary. The Board of Education continues to budget more money for opportunities for our students through on-line learning as well as virtual field trips as the District attempts to stay abreast of such opportunities and educationally service our students to the best of our ability.
“How has or is the District reaching out to involve and keep the community involved in the budgetary process?”
The District leadership team engaged in a number of initiatives to both engage and maintain open channels of communication with interested stakeholders. The following were key components of the outreach effort:
1. Establish Quick Link on the District’s website and post information pertaining to the 2013 – 2014 budget (An abundance of information that has been shared is easily accessible for those interested.)
2. Survey on website (A survey on the website was conducted in February and allowed for feedback from 92 individuals within our educational community.)
3. Community Forum with facilitators (The Community Forum with facilitators regarding the school budget was held in February and six (6) individuals attended.
4. Budget Committee (The Budget Committee met on two (2) occasions allowing District leadership to gather feedback about budget-related initiatives as well as offering an opportunity to share and disseminate accurate information about the budget development process.)
At the outset of the review of the 2013 – 2014 Budget by the Board of Education, the Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance provided the Board of Education and the District with budget relevant information through a presentation at the Community Budget Forum. Additionally, information on matter was made available to the public on the website as the District accumulated pertinent documents that were believed to have educational benefits on the subject. In regards to the budget work by the Board of Education, the Board of Education has reviewed all components of the budget in a line-by-line manner in the open session of the meetings beginning at their February 4, 2013 meeting up to and including their April 8, 2013 meeting at which the budget was adopted. It is worth highlighting that each version of the budget that was reviewed in public session of a Board meeting and any of the accompanying budget-related documents have been available for public review as all documents have either been shared prior to Board meetings via posting on the website or during the public presentations at the Board meetings and thereafter accessible on the website.
Once adopted, the District leadership team will present the budget to the faculty and staff on three (3) occasions, to invited community leaders, interested Senior Citizens, and to the public at its Annual Budget Hearing on May 7, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. in the Auditorium of the Jr.-Sr. High School. Furthermore, the District is required to provide the community with a budget newsletter which will be available at the beginning of May and it will do so through a mass mailing while also having budget information on hand at each school and the public library. The school budgeting process has taken on heightened interest from the local media outlets in the past few years so it is anticipated that information will flow from such sources.
Finally, in hopes of securing accurate responses to the questions that may surround the budget, the District leadership team is promoting the review of its BUDGET FAQs document that appears on the website. This document is being updated on a consistent basis as well as at the Board meetings. Lastly, it is expected that the Superintendent’s eNewsletter, which is available for delivery to one’s email account if an interested individual signs up for subscription via the school website, will review the BUDGET FAQs over the next few weeks.
In closing, the District’s leadership team has been proactive in gathering and sharing information on the subject of the school budget for 2013 – 2014. It is hoped that if there are other budget related questions that may develop the inquirer reaches out to either a Board of Education member, the Superintendent of Schools or the Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance to share the question.
“Is the public library budget vote linked with the school budget vote?”
The District is required by Education Law to place a library budget proposition on the school district ballot. This stand-alone funding proposition is a separate voting proposition from the school budget proposition and requires a yes or no vote. The outcome of each vote has no direct bearing on the other. The law provides not only a means for the library to access voters in the community but also to use the tax collection mechanism. For clarity sake, it should be noted that through this partnership the school district merely assumes the responsibility of collecting the taxes to fund the Weedsport Public Library. The District is not allowed to charge for collecting the library funds. Finally, there is no co-mingling of the school tax levy and the public library tax levy and evidence of such can be observed as each have separate tax rates displayed on school tax bills.
“What is the projected amount of reserves used for 2012 – 2013 and what remains for use in 2013 – 2014?”
In responding to this question it is best to share that as much as the District tries to explain things in simple terms there are occasions where some technical, budgeting terms are used in the explanation. In doing so, please understand that there is no attempt to be intentionally complex but rather the desired outcome is accuracy. The budgeted amount of reserve use for 2012 – 2013 was $701,314 of general fund reserves and $850,00 of debt service fund money. The actual amount that the District will use will be determined at the end of the fiscal year and will depend on how much unassigned fund balance the District wishes to carry into the 2013 – 2014 school year. By law a district may carry up to 4% of the next year’s budgeted expenditures as unassigned money. Currently the estimate would be that we would not use any general fund reserves for 2012 – 2013 but the District may make a transfer from the debt service fund into the general fund as was done the previous fiscal year (2011 – 2012). The amount that was transferred June 30, 2012 was $300,000 and we may very well transfer an amount in the range of $250,000 to $400,000 this June 30th as well. The District currently has $1,726,968 in general fund restricted reserves and $1,500,163 in the debt service fund and how much we would carry in reserves or debt service funds for 2013 – 2014 is dependent upon the amount used in the current year concluding June 30, 2013.
“What is the funding process for the busses?”
We purchase busses and finance them over a five year period of time on a fixed rate installment; the process is very similar to how one would finance their own vehicle.
“Did the Board of Education budget for reinstituting NewsNotes in the 2013 – 2014 school budget?”
The Board of Education carefully considered the reinstatement of the NewsNotes in its 2013 – 2014 school budget. The Board reviewed the matter in open session at a number of Board meetings this school year discussing their own viewpoints on the subject, what has been communicated to them by others, and the financials. It was determined that for the outlay of money involved in producing, publishing and distributing the NewsNotes in its former bulk mailing model or in a more direct mailing format on a monthly basis it was best not to appropriate funds for such and use our limited resources in other ways. The Board of Education recognizes that there are still some individuals who would enjoy receiving the mailing and they acknowledge people’s interest. Perhaps the subject can be revisited in the future, but in the meanwhile the Board of Education encourages interested and able parties to visit the school website for the most up-to-date information.