Proposed $39.5M VVS budget includes nearly 3 percent tax hike


VERONA — A 2019-20 tentative Vernon-Verona-Sherrill school district budget that includes a proposed 2.99 percent increase in the local property tax levy has been adopted by the VVS Board of Education.

The $39.5 million proposed spending plan, adopted Tuesday night by the board, will be presented for final approval by VVS district voters in a May 21 election. A public hearing will be May 8 at 6:30 p.m. at VVS High School, 5275 Route 31.

All academic and extracurricular programs are maintained in the tentative budget, VVS district Director of Student Programs and Communications Sondra Whalen said Wednesday.

Also, she said the budget adds two special patrol officer positions for schools, plus it expands the school district’s one-to-one Chromebook program and its STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) program. The spending plan, to take effect July 1, is up about $2.3 million from the $37.2 million budget for the current 2018-19 year.

The proposed local tax levy increase, meanwhile, is less than the allowable limit under the state’s tax cap formula; the maximum allowable limit is a 4.61 percent increase, Whalen noted.

Among proposed budget additions:

• The VVS district intends to contract with Oneida County for two full-time special patrol officer positions, said Whalen. The total cost for 2019-20 would be $76,000. If the county pledges to continue subsidizing 50 percent of the cost for the program, the district’s cost could be reduced to $38,000, she noted.

The VVS board in December voted to give district Superintendent Martha Group the authority to contract with Oneida County for the officers, and the district has worked with the Sheriff’s Department on the initiative. Several other area school districts in 2018 took up the county’s offer to help pay for armed special patrol officers for security in schools. Such positions have been filled by retirees with a background in law enforcement.

• The one-to-one Chromebook program expansion for grades 2 through 4 will cost over $100,000 in 2019-20, Whalen said. This will include costs for software, licensing and professional development, plus part of the cost of the devices which will be amortized over four years at an annual $61,394 cost through a financing program in conjunction with BOCES.

• Costs for continued enhancement of the STEAM program are accounted for across several budget categories including teacher salaries, materials, supplies and equipment among them, Whalen commented.

Overall, key revenue sources for the tentative budget include state financial aid at $21.12 million, the property tax levy of $14.42 million, and the use of about $2.94 million of the school district’s fund balance/savings.

The VVS district’s enrollment for pre-K to grade 12 is 1,914 students. It has about 344 employees.


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