The $96.5 million Bethlehem Central School District Budget for 2016-17 passed today by a margin of 2,119 to 483, or approximately 81.4 percent in favor to 18.6 percent opposed.
Two candidates were elected to serve on the Bethlehem Central Board of Education. They are, in order of vote totals: Michael Cooper with 1,910 votes, who will serve his third term on the Board, and Jonathan S. Fishbein with 1,805 votes, who has been elected to his first term. They will each serve full, three-year terms beginning July 1, 2016. The candidates ran uncontested.
In addition, a proposition to replace ten large buses and five small buses at a cost of $1,413,000 passed by a vote of 1,858 to 727, or 71.9 percent to 28.1 percent.
Thank you to all who came out to vote!
2016-17 Budget Snapshot
- Total Budget: $96, 540, 000
- Spending Increase: 2.53%
- Tax Levy Increase: 0.81% (Below BC’s “tax cap”)
- Use of Fund Balance: $0
- Estimated Tax Impact: 0.09% tax rate increase, or $1.94 per $100k (Use our Tax Calculator to estimate your upcoming school tax bill.)
The passed 2016-17 budget includes an increase in state aid of $2,262,000 including a $1.37 million full restoration of this year’s Gap Elimination Adjustment. The return of these funds, combined with a moderate reduction in pension costs and savings due to retirements will allow the district to address some of the prolonged effects of the recession on the Bethlehem schools. The additional savings and revenue will also ensure the district’s mission of providing educational excellence to all Bethlehem students while keeping the tax levy increase below one percent.
The 2016-17 budget will be used to maintain class sizes in primary grades; alleviate overcrowding on elementary bus routes; expand special education funding to meet student needs in-district and fund BOCES-supported special education services; strengthen support for struggling learners; lift wages of substitute teachers, nurses and non-instructional temporary support staff to put the district on par with area school district employers; provide more support for the use of technology in the classroom; and increase extracurricular and athletic opportunities for students.
“In crafting this budget, district leaders looked closely at our most pressing needs and what would be most beneficial to students,” said Interim Superintendent Jody Monroe. “We believe we have balanced those needs with the district’s ability to sustain any budget additions over time.”
Bus Replacement Plan
The bus proposition will fund the replacement of ten large school buses and five small school buses in Bethlehem Central’s current bus fleet. This replacement is part of an ongoing plan to keep the district’s fleet up to date. School buses must pass rigorous annual state inspections.
Replacement of buses normally occurs when it is no longer cost-effective to make the repairs necessary to meet those standards. The district has proposed replacing approximately 8 percent of the fleet annually as the most effective way to maintain its vehicles and to control the maintenance costs that come with keeping older buses on the road. The cost of the debt service on new buses is reimbursed by the state, currently at a rate of about 63 percent.
- Funds special education programs paid through BOCES to meet increased student needs
- Increases substitute teacher rates to $105/day and substitute nurses to $20/hour to better compete in regional job market
- Lifts substitute non-instructional staff wages by $1/hour to $10 and $11/hour for various substitute positions
- Increases role of core academic supervisors in science, math, ELA, social studies and PE (Adds 1.0 FTE total)
- Adds districtwide Response to Intervention (RTI) supervisor to oversee program for early learners who struggle in ELA and math
- Restores 0.6 FTE Asst. Transportation Supervisor
- Replaces and repairs musical equipment
- Adds support for instructional technology in classrooms in grades 6-12
- Restores K-12 Guidance Supervisor
- Adds support for library databases
- Adds five elementary bus routes to alleviate overcrowding of K-5 students
- Adds 1.0 FTE special education teachers to meet enrollment needs
- Adds 1.0 FTE Response to Intervention (RTI) teacher to help early learners
- Adds 2.0 FTE aides to students with disabilities
- Increases noon aide coverage
- Provides for new science curriculum materials
- Adds summer program for grades K-1
- Eliminates one Grade 6 team (O.8 FTE) to meet projected enrollment needs
- Adds one custodian at the school
- Restores BCMS Art Club
- Adds 0.6 FTE special education teacher and 1.0 FTE aides to students with disabilities
- Eliminates funding for proposed International Baccalaureate (IB) program that was rejected after an extensive two-year review
- Expands Intensive Skills class to the high school with 1.0 FTE special education teacher and 2.0 FTE aides to students with disabilities
- Creates Lab School Honors Program (O.4 FTE)
- Provides training for new AP Chemistry teacher
- Provides Project Lead the Way (PLTW) training
- Restores BCHS Art Club
- Replace service contract for Athletic Trainer with district-employed trainer
- Create modified-level cross country teams for boys and girls
- Create modified-level outdoor track teams for boys and girls