Hearing tonight on Camden $52.2M school budget

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CAMDEN — A proposed Camden school district 2019-20 budget which includes no program reductions and a 3.51 percent increase in the local property tax levy will be the topic of a public hearing at 7 p.m. today at Camden High School.

For property owners’ individual tax bills, the actual tax rate to generate the levy is projected to go up only about 0.5 percent, district Assistant Superintendent for Business Karl Keil Jr. said today.

This is due to anticipated growth in the district’s overall property tax base, which will “spread out the tax impact,” Keil explained; the tax levy reflects the amount of revenue raised by taxes.

The state Office of Real Property Services is projecting 3 percent growth in the district’s overall property values, stemming from factors including individual housing construction, he
added.

The school district’s proposed 2019-20 budget of $52.22 million, adopted last month by the Board of Education, is subject to final approval by district voters in a May 21 election.

It would take effect July 1. The spending plan is up by $344,261 or 0.66 percent from the current 2018-19 budget.

Attrition would account for the only proposed job reductions. Keil said two teacher positions to be vacated through retirements, plus a position being vacated through a departure, would not be filled.

In addition, a retiring special education director would be replaced by an assistant director whose position would be eliminated, he said.

Among programs, armed special patrol officers to provide increased security will increase from two to four, resulting in one for every school building in the district, said Keil.

The program, which for 2019-20 would involve $70,000 in Camden district funding and $70,000 in Oneida County
funding, includes retired police and corrections officers, Keil added.

The program has been “very well received by staff and the community at large,” Keil commented. He further said “we really appreciate Oneida County’s support,” adding the officers have done a “fantastic job for us.”

Some of the other highlighted programs in the new budget would include expanded instructional intervention efforts, and district-wide enhanced communication including platforms for School Mobile App and School Messenger.

The district’s proposed tax levy increase is at the maximum allowed under state tax-cap formulas. Keil said it is due to “lack of support from Albany,” citing state financial aid that has fallen short of what the district is entitled to based on funding formulas.

For the Camden district’s 2019-20 budget revenues, the local property tax levy is projected to contribute about $11.07 million while state aid would provide about $38.19 million.

Among other revenue sources would be about $1.1 million from the district’s reserves/fund balance.

Keil said this would leave slightly over $6 million remaining in reserves, but added the district needs to be conservative long-term regarding its usage because of factors including future state aid uncertainties.

The district’s enrollment for 2019-20 is projected at 2,094 students for pre-K to grade 12, said Keil. It has about 505 employees.

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