Rome share of MOBOCES admin budget increases

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A proposed Madison-Oneida (MO) BOCES administrative budget with a 6.4 percent percent local share increase, an online donation program, and an increased expense for a Strough Middle School renovation were among Board of Education topics. In the board’s review of the items Thursday night:

• For the proposed MOBOCES 2019-20 administrative budget of $4.94 million, the Rome district’s estimated net local share would be $161,196, up from $151,380, according to a presentation by MO BOCES officials including Superintendent Jacklin Starks.

Besides contributions from Rome and eight other participating school districts in the Verona-based BOCES, the budget is funded by state aid for those districts plus interest earned by BOCES along with accruals/set-asides for retiree insurance benefits, said Director of Finance Lisa Decker. The budget is up 5.5 percent from the current $4.68 million spending plan for 2018-19.

Boards for the nine participating districts are scheduled to vote in April on the MO BOCES administrative budget. BOCES has separate budgets for educational programs and services as well as capital expenses, which are not voted on by those boards. The school districts separately select and pay for various BOCES programs and services.

The Rome district’s enrollment in BOCES programs as of Jan. 17 this year included 257 students in career and technical education; 14 in career exploration; 14 in community-based occupational education. Also, 65 students are in alternative and special education programs.

Overall, the Rome district’s grade K-12 enrollment is projected to rise to 5,535 in 2019-20, up from 5,421 in 2018-19. In contrast, total estimated K-12 enrollment for all nine component school districts is projected to decrease to 15,371, from 15,492 in 2018-19.

“While the region shrunk” in enrollment, “you grew a little bit,” BOCES Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Scott Budelmann told the board. Rome is the largest of the component districts, which also include Camden, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, Oneida, Canastota, Hamilton, Madison, Morrisville-Eaton, and Stockbridge Valley.

The school board also was addressed by BOCES board President Suzanne Carvelli, a former Rome board member. She is finishing a 3-year term on the BOCES board, and said she would like to continue as the Rome district’s representative; it is decided through voting by the component school boards.

• The board approved accepting a donation of about $2,000 in educational materials for Staley Elementary School from DonorsChoose.org, an online site that seeks funding for classroom project requests submitted by teachers. Visitors to the site can select from the listed requests if they would like to donate.

The donation for Staley was requested by a teacher there, and was cleared through Principal Julie Kimmel-Gorman, said district Superintendent Peter C. Blake. The educational materials include for various activities relating to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math), he added.

Board member Joseph Mellace asked about procedures and safeguards for the online donation program. Blake said there can be issues if donated materials are not compliant with state standards, or if a technology donation is not compatible with the district’s local system.

• The board approved a $40,737 change-order for Central NY Construction of Barneveld, for additional work that was needed for a Strough Middle School parking lot area.

Board member John Leonard asked “who’s paying for this,” and also asked whether the work involved “anything...that should have been caught” beforehand rather than require a change-order. Blake said the funding is covered as part of an overall capital project.

He explained that soil underneath an area being renovated for a parking lot was not strong enough to sustain the lot, and workers “had to go down deeper” in digging. He called it “a found problem” that did not involve prior awareness.

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