School budget vote on May 18

Proposal provides support for students while staying under the tax levy limit 

Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday, May 18 to consider a proposed $17.885
million budget. The plan enhances the district’s academic programs and supports its strategic plan with a 1.82% year-to-year spending increase and a tax levy under the district’s limit. Polls will be open from 1-9 p.m. at the Jr./Sr. High School.

Key Points

  • DCS will continue all existing student programs and support services in the 2021-22 budget. 
  • The year-to-year spending increase amounts to $320,000, or 1.82%. Further spending increases were reduced through operational efficiencies and an administrative reorganization.
  • The district is balancing the budget through a combination of fund balance, state aid and property taxes. The proposed budget includes a tax levy change of 1.95%. This is below the tax cap of 4.45%. 
  • Federal stimulus money is not included in the 2021-22 spending plan. Stimulus funds will not be used for ongoing costs (see more information below). 

“We have a responsibility to the community to ensure that the district uses its resources as effectively and efficiently as possible,” Superintendent of Schools James Niedermeier said. “At the same time, we strive to create an academic program that positions all of our students to become successful and productive members of a global economy — whatever their path may be.” 

Academic Excellence

The proposed budget prioritizes rigorous academic programs and supports for students’ mental health and social/emotional learning. 

DCS will accelerate its educational technology plans with more Chromebooks for students. Classrooms will be enhanced with equipment that expands distance learning capabilities and makes it easier for students to see and hear their livestreamed and in-person lessons. 

The proposed budget expands student opportunities in the arts with the addition of a music teacher. All extracurricular and athletics programs will continue. 

The plan also includes professional development opportunities to support faculty and staff.

Total Expenses

Spending in the proposed budget totals $17.885 million. It is a 1.82% year-to-year spending increase. 

Based on state aid projections, available revenue for next year will not cover the growth in expenses. The district has a budget gap that needs to be closed. Niedermeier is recommending to address the budget gap with a balanced approach of increasing the tax levy, using fund balance and reducing spending through operational efficiencies. 

The district has eliminated the position of director of curriculum and instruction and athletics and will replace it with two positions. First, an assistant principal/coordinator of middle school programming will assist the district in achieving its strategic goals related to middle school achievement. Second, athletic director duties will be taken over by a teacher with a stipend. This change will be a significant savings to the district and will not have an impact on the district’s sports offerings. The athletics program will continue as normal in 2021-22. 

DCS will further achieve savings by reorganizing its transportation procedures while enhancing health and safety on school buses.

The district will also contract with BOCES for some shared services in the human resources department. This will make the district eligible to receive state aid for these shared services.

State Aid & Federal Aid

The enacted New York State budget no longer includes long-term provisions that would have reduced school aid for districts. DCS will receive a budgeted year-to-year $47,185 increase in state aid, or 0.57%. 

American CARES Act (Federal Stimulus) 

School districts in New York State will be required to develop a plan and apply for federal stimulus money from the CARES Act. These stimulus funds cannot be used for ongoing operational costs such as salaries or transportation. Stimulus money must be tied to specific costs, including summer programs, technology and social-emotional supports for students.

Fund Balance

DCS is planning to use $884,869 in reserves and fund balance to help balance the budget. Fund balance can be thought of as a savings account. In the case of school districts, it can be used to help with unanticipated expenses or to help manage the tax levy through a planned, long-term approach. 

Tax Levy

The proposed budget includes a 1.95% tax levy increase. This is below the district’s tax cap of 4.45%. Because the proposed tax levy increase is under the cap, the proposed budget will require a simple majority vote for approval. The tax cap law only applies to the tax levy (the amount of taxes collected by the district), not to tax rates or individual tax bills. 

School Bus Proposition

During the budget vote in May, residents will consider a school bus referendum to purchase new buses. The purchase includes two 30-passenger buses and one 71-passenger bus at a cost not to exceed $242,000 total. It will allow the district to replace aging buses and minimize maintenance costs. 

What’s Next?

  • The community is invited to learn more about the proposed budget at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4 at a virtual public hearing
  • Meet the Board of Education candidates at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 13 at a virtual event sponsored by PTA.
  • Vote on the budget and the board member election on Tuesday, May 18 from 1-9 p.m. in the Jr/Sr. High School gymnasium. 

Learn More 

Superintendent Dr. James Niedermeier and Assistant Superintendent Jeffrey Rivenburg have given bimonthly budget presentations to the Board of Education since February. The presentations are available below: