On Tuesday, May 16, Weedsport Central School District residents will vote on a proposed $22,253,678 budget for the 2023-24 school year. The proposed budget increases spending by $981,658 and carries a 1.99 percent tax levy increase, which falls below the District’s legal limit as defined by New York’s tax levy cap legislation.
This marks the twelfth year in a row that the District has presented a tax levy below 2 percent. External forces such as escalating health insurance costs, increased mandatory retirement contributions by NYS, and the termination of federal funding related to the COVID-19 pandemic all had a significant impact in the budget development process. The Village of Weedsport will also stop providing its SRO service next school year, resulting in a costlier partnership with the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Department.
“Throughout this process, the focus on ensuring the continuation of Weedsport’s excellent education program has not wavered,” explained Superintendent Shaun O’Connor. “We believe that the budget provides a balanced approach to meeting the educational needs of our students and the economic pressures on the taxpayers.”
The proposed budget accounts for positions that were once covered by COVID-19 relief monies. That includes funding for Academic Intervention Services teachers at the elementary-level and at the Jr.-Sr. High School. Additionally, funding for a teaching assistant to serve struggling learners in the Jr.-Sr. High School Learning Lab will now be assumed by the District, as will a portion of the funding for a counselor who works at both school buildings in support of students and their social/emotional well-being.
“It’s important to approach students with sensitivity and respect, and to prioritize their well-being and needs as we express concern and offer support. Building a trusting relationship and creating a supportive environment can make a significant difference in helping students overcome challenges and thrive academically, socially, and emotionally,” emphasized O’Connor.
The 2023-24 spending plan includes increased funding to support student programming; most specifically, the restoration of a full-time music teacher at the high school level, the addition of a special education teacher at the high school level, and student participation in BOCES- provided alternative education and Career and Technical Education programming.
“In its time-honored approach, the Weedsport Board of Education is focused on maintaining fiscal prudence while balancing an excellent academic program through strategic financial planning, cost management, and long-term financial sustainability,” shared O’Connor.
Other Propositions on the Ballot
The District is also asking voters to approve the purchase of a new school bus, not to exceed $165,000.
In a second proposition, voters will decide whether or not the Weedsport Public Library can levy and collect a tax in the amount of $88,058 in 2023-24.
In a third proposition, voters will be asked whether or not the District can establish a Capital Reserve.
Voters will also select one member to join the Board of Education. Incumbent Colleen Borza is running for reelection.