April 10 Update: Budget Q & A page

April 10, 2020

To the Weedsport Community and the Staff,

If you haven’t already heard, state lawmakers adopted a state budget where overall education funding for next year is $27.9 billion; about the same as the current year. However, in light of COVID-19, two new provisions in the budget contribute to significant uncertainty for school districts: the introduction of periodic reviews of state revenue that could result in mid-year school aid cuts and a new “Pandemic Adjustment” state aid reduction that is, at least for now, fully offset by new federal funding.

As we all struggle through these challenging days, I’m not happy to say that some tough times – and equally tough decisions – lie ahead as we craft the 2020-21 school budget. We’re faced with risings costs amid the current state aid situation, and we were identified in January by the NYS Comptroller as a school district susceptible to fiscal stress.

This budget process reminds me of the Great Recession in 2008 when shortfalls in state aid District required us to make some tough choices and use creative thinking. As difficult as the Great Recession and the ensuing years of recovery were to navigate, our school system was able to survive and thrive. In the last five years, we enhanced our educational program (e.g. offering a PreK program and broadened technology use) and upgraded our facilities and infrastructure (pool, Fitness Center, and the heating and ventilation systems).

Now, we not only face some tough decisions budget wise, but we’re also tackling the challenge of communicating when we’re unable to see each other face-to-face. Nevertheless, during this budget process we will dedicate ourselves to educating people of the facts, communicating effectively through the means we are afforded, and being transparent.

With that being said, we are developing a question and answer page on our budget page (www.weedsport.org/departments/budget-and-finance) where anyone can ask a budget-related question (such as “What does a 2 percent tax levy increase amount to?”) and email it to the address: budgetquestions@weedsport.org.

Please email your question to the email address above and include your full name and phone number(s). We will call to verify the sender and their question and then post the question and answer on our budget page. We hope to answer all questions as it relates to the 2020-21 school budget and in the process making sure that our community understands the budget development process.

Stay safe and stay healthy,

Shaun A. O’Connor
Superintendent of Schools