Presentation on $122.6M school budget Monday

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BY DAVE GYMBURCH

Staff writer

A presentation and hearing on the Rome school district’s proposed 2020-21 budget of $122.6 million will be Monday at 6:30 p.m. on a remote basis.

It will be streamed through the district’s YouTube channel starting at 6:20 p.m. at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8BoYZyGLUorkU1Ec_YP20w online. A link to join the webinar is at https://E2CCB-GST.zoom.us/j/95621840516 online. The meetings have been using virtual platforms due to COVID-19.

The presentation and hearing will not be a budget development session, according to the school district. Superintendent Peter C. Blake will present the budget plan, and there will not be a “live” question-and-answer session. Questions from the public can be submitted prior to the meeting to asktheboe@romecsd.org by email.

The proposed budget was adopted last week by the Board of Education, and will be subject to final approval by district voters in a June 9 election before taking effect July 1; the spending plan has no local tax levy increase and would maintain programs including no staff layoffs. The public had opportunities to submit questions on a “live” basis during the board meeting last week, and also at a May 14 presentation and hearing.

Board President Stephen P. Hampe, when asked about Monday’s additional upcoming hearing, said the district is obligated by law to present the board-approved budget no more than 14 days nor less than seven days before the annual election date. In prior years, sessions such as the one Monday have “always been a presentation of the board-approved budget, not a ‘work-in-process’ meeting,” he explained. “This is why there will be no live Q&A” on Monday, said Hampe. He added that a video of Blake’s budget presentation has been available for several weeks for public review.

There can be no change to the overall dollar amount in the proposed 2020-21 budget adopted by the board, said Hampe. But there potentially could still be shifts in where the funding is spent, he observed.

The proposed budget, up about $5.9 million from the current 2019-20 budget, allocates about $11.9 million from the district’s fund balance/savings and reserves to cover a projected deficit. It seeks to take into account the uncertainties caused by COVID-19; among the unknown factors are the requirements for socially distanced education and busing for the 2020-21 school year, plus possible future state financial aid reductions.

School buildings closed in mid-March and will not reopen for the rest of the 2019-20 year, with instruction continuing on a remote basis.

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