Friday, December 15, 2017

BUDGET NEWS


Budget history at a glance:

2017-18 Budget

  • Total budget: $10,661,352
  • Tax levy increase: 1.74%
  • Budget-to-budget change: 3.06%

2016-17 Budget

  • Total budget: $10,344,506
  • Tax levy increase: 2.4%
  • Budget-to-budget change: -2.2% 

2015-16 Budget

  • Total budget: $10,582,207
  • Tax levy increase: 1.35%
  • Budget-to-budget change: -0.51%

Voters approve 17-18 district budget and bus proposition, elect BOE member

infographic of vote resultsMay 16, 2017 -- Arkport Central School District voters today approved the district’s $10.7 million 2017-18 budget proposal, elected a new Board of Education member and passed a proposition to buy two new school buses.

Voters:

  • Approved $10,661,352 budget for the 2017-18 school year that increases spending 3.1 percent ($316,846), and carries a 1.74 percent tax levy increase ($59,988): 223 yes, 54 no.
  • Approved the purchase of two school buses at a total cost not to exceed $240,000: 218 yes, 47 no.
  • Re-elected Board of Education member Jennifer Swarts, who received the highest number of votes (58) and will serve a five-year term starting July 1.

thank you graphic

“I would like to express my thanks to all the Arkport residents who made the time to cast ballots today,” Superintendent of Schools Jesse Harper said. “I’m grateful we can advance into the next school year with a plan that maintains the quality academic program our community has come to expect from Arkport Central School.”

Because the school district’s proposed 2017-18 tax levy was less than the maximum allowed for Arkport under the state’s tax levy limit law, it required the approval of a simple majority (50 percent plus one) of voters. The law requires each school district to calculate its own levy limit based on a complex multi-step formula. The Arkport budget was passed by 80.5 percent of voters.

Administrators reduced the tax levy increase – or the amount of revenue raised through property taxes – by employing a number of strategies, including sharing the cost of some services, such as special education and transportation, with neighboring districts, and appropriating $530,951 from district reserves. 

“On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to thank the Arkport voters for approving this budget,” said board President Patrick N. Flaitz. “The community’s support is an integral part of our mission – ‘to equip learners to achieve their maximum potential and prepare them for tomorrow’s challenges.’”



Residents to vote May 16 on $10.7 million spending plan

school budget logoApril 27, 2017 -- On Tuesday, May 16, Arkport Central School District residents will vote on a $10,661,352 proposed budget for the 2017-18 school year. The budget calls for a 3.06 percent increase in spending over 2016-17 and carries a 1.74 percent tax levy increase, which is below the maximum increase allowed for the district under the state’s tax levy limit law.

The proposed budget maintains the programming and services now available at Arkport, including extra- and co-curricular activities and programs. The fiscal plan also replaces an Erie 1 BOCES (E1B) PowerSchool coordinator with a Greater Southern Tier (GST) BOCES social worker and provides for a $100,000 capital project for locker room renovations.

Residents will vote on the proposed budget on May 16 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“With next year’s proposed plan, we’re focusing on three areas of need: student technology, school social work and future planning through grant services,” Superintendent of Schools Jesse Harper said.

The proposed budget seeks to restore some services that previously had been cut due to budget constraints during the worst of the national economic recession. Specifically, Arkport eliminated one of the school’s two guidance counselors in 2011. In 2017-18, administrators propose to add the services of a social worker through GST BOCES.

“Like many other districts in the state, Arkport in the past was forced to make difficult budget decisions that affected staffing,” Mr. Harper said. “During this time, we moved from two guidance counselors to one, which afforded students less access to social and emotional counseling services. By adding a part-time BOCES social worker, I believe we’ll be taking a step in the right direction to addressing the needs of Arkport students.”

The budget also provides for the initial stages of a three-year rollout of a one-to-one technology program that would pair each student with a device, such as a tablet or laptop.

“The goal will be to teach students not only how to use technology to help them learn, but also how to use it in a productive and appropriate manner,” Mr. Harper said.

The fiscal plan also includes grant writing services through GST BOCES, to help Arkport seek funding to help offset costs associated with the planned cafeteria renovations and other projects.

ALSO ON THE BALLOT: On May 16, Arkport residents also will elect one Board of Education member and consider a separate proposition to purchase two new school buses, one equipped with a wheelchair lift, at a cost not to exceed $240,000.

After they vote, residents will be asked to take an anonymous survey about the district moving forward with a merger study. The study would examine the possible impacts that merging Arkport and Canaseraga school districts would have on the following areas: student enrollment, academic programs, athletics, facilities, transportation, staffing and finances.



Board of Education adopts 2017-18 budget proposal


budget graphicOn Wednesday, April 5, the Arkport Board of Education adopted a $10,661,353 proposed budget for the 2017-18 school year. The budget calls for a 3.06 percent increase in spending over 2016-17 and carries a 1.74 percent tax levy increase.

Because the budget’s proposed tax levy is lower than the maximum allowed for the district under the state’s tax levy limit law—an increase of 3.29 percent or $113,339—the measure will pass if a simple majority (50 percent plus one) of voters approves it.

The district’s $10.7 million budget proposal increases spending by $316,847, while increasing the tax levy by $59,915. District residents will vote on it 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 16.

The fiscal plan increases BOCES services in the areas of social work, grant services and technology. These increases will be partially offset by a decrease in BOCES services that support our guidance online services. The district will also be proposing the addition of a $100,000 capital outlay project to address ongoing building infrastructure needs.



Understanding how school budgets are balanced

March 9, 2017 -- Each year, school boards in New York must develop a balanced school budget proposal for the following school year and put it to a public vote on the third Tuesday in May. The requirement for a balanced school budget is challenging when a district’s anticipated expenses exceed anticipated revenue. Finding a balance might require budget reductions and/or tax levy increases or using excess fund balance.

Here is a simple, graphic fact sheet that explains what it takes to balance the annual school budget: link to School Budgets 101 infographic.

 balancing the budget infographic



2016-17 Budget News Archives


Voters approve 2016-17 budget, elect one Board of Education member

budget at a glance graphicOn May 17, Arkport Central School District voters approved the district’s $10.3 million 2016-17 budget proposal, elected a new Board of Education member and passed a proposition to buy a new school bus.

Voters approved:

  • A $10,344,506 budget for the 2016-17 school year that decreases spending 2.2 percent (-$237,701), and carries a 2.4 percent tax levy increase ($81,296): 236 yes, 103 no.
  • The purchase of a 66-passenger school bus at a total cost not to exceed $115,000: 294 yes, 44 no.
  • The election of new Board of Education member Julianne W. Merry, who received 179 votes and will serve a five-year term starting July 1. (Incumbent John Currie received 155 votes.)

“To all those who found time in their busy lives to cast a ballot today, I say thank you,” Superintendent of Schools Glenn Niles said. “It’s gratifying to move forward with a fiscal plan that preserves and enhances Arkport’s quality academic program while limiting the impact on our taxpayers.”

Because the school district’s proposed 2016-17 tax levy exceeded the maximum allowed for Arkport under the state’s tax levy limit law, it required the approval of a supermajority (a least 60 percent) of voters. The law requires each school district to calculate its own levy limit based on a complex multi-step formula. Nearly 70 percent of voters (69.6 percent) approved next year’s proposal.

Administrators reduced the tax levy increase – or the amount of revenue raised through property taxes – by employing a number of strategies, includingreducing one BOCES position; eliminating $30,000 in planned technology purchases; postponing a $100,000 capital outlay project; and using $403,000 in district reserves.

“On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to thank the Arkport voters for approving this budget,” said board President Stephen C. Hoyt. “Once again, this community has assisted us in our mission to help students achieve their maximum potential and prepare them for tomorrow’s challenges.”



Information about the 2016-17 School Budget Vote

budget info at a glance

Polls open: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, in Arkport Central School Small Gymnasium, 35 East Avenue, Arkport, NY 14807.

On the ballot:

  • 2016-17 school budget proposition:$10,344,506;
  • Bus proposition; and
  • One seat on the Arkport Board of Education. 

Voter qualifications:

  • U.S. citizen;
  • 18 years of age or older;
  • District residency for at least 30 days prior to vote; and
  • No voter registration required.

2016-17 budget newsletter cover

Absentee voters:

Applications for absentee ballots must be returned to the district clerk by May 10 if the ballot is to be mailed to the voter or by May 16 if it will be picked up by the voter. Absentee ballots must be returned no later than 4 p.m. May 17. Questions? Call District Clerk Meghann Khork at (607) 295-7471.

Voter survey:

Volunteers will ask exiting voters to fill out a survey form. Participation is strictly voluntary and anonymous. The district will use data gleaned from the survey as one tool to listen to residents and guide decision-making.

2016-17 Budget Newsletter (May 2016):

Click here to view or print the newsletter (PDF).

2016-17 Budget Statement:

School districts are required by state law to make copies of their "Budget Statements" available in district buildings as well as online.

The Budget Statement consists of: 





Board adopts 2016-17 budget proposal

school district budget logoOn Wednesday, April 13, the Arkport Board of Education adopted a $10,344,506 proposed budget for the 2016-17 school year. The budget calls for a 2.2 percent decrease in spending over 2015-16 and carries a 2.4 percent tax levy increase.

Because the budget’s proposed tax levy exceeds the maximum allowed for the district under the state’s tax levy limit law—an increase of 1.1 percent or $44,207—a supermajority greater than 60 percent of voters must approve for the measure to pass.

The district’s $10.3 million budget proposal decreases spending by $237,701, while increasing the tax levy by $81,296 or 2.4 percent. District residents will vote on it 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 17.

“Escalating employee benefit costs have combined with a small state aid increase, a low tax cap and declining federal aid to create a perfect budget storm for the district,” Superintendent of Schools Glenn Niles said. “Even after our determined efforts to trim costs, we still can’t close the gap between revenues and expenditures while remaining under the state levy cap.”

The fiscal plan reduces one BOCES position; eliminates $30,000 in planned technology purchases; and postpones a $100,000 capital outlay project. The district expects to realize some additional savings in salaries and benefits after five teachers and one teacher aide retire this year. Administrators plan to replace all of the teaching positions, although one position will be reduced to part-time. The aide’s position will not be filled.

The proposed budget maintains all existing academic programs, services and extra- and co-curricular activities. It also calls for the replacement of a heat exchanger at an approximate cost of $54,000, which will come from the district’s repair reserve fund and have no tax impact; some driveway repairs; and the purchase of a new school bus, using capital reserve funds.

Voters will also elect will elect one member to the Board of Education, for the seat now held by John A. Currie, Jr. Two candidates have filed nominating petitions for the seat: Mr. Currie and Julianne W. Merry. 

The annual school budget hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 4, in the Performing Arts Center.



2016-17 state budget includes $1.5 billion education funding increase, end to GEA

NYS sealOn Friday, April 1, New York lawmakers approved a 2016-17 state budget that includes an overall $1.5 billion – or 6.5 percent – increase in education funding. The state budget ends the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which has diverted billions of dollars from schools during the last seven years.

The Legislature’s vote on the budget came on the first day of the state’s new fiscal year. The finalized spending plan provides school districts with information about state aid revenue that is critical as they develop school budgets for the 2016-17 school year.

The bulk of the state aid increase will be split in three ways: a $627 million increase in Foundation Aid, $434 million to end the GEA and $341 million to reimburse schools for costs such as transportation, construction and BOCES services.

The budget also includes targeted funding for community school efforts in designated districts, an expansion of the statewide prekindergarten initiative for 3-year-olds and an increase in financial support for charter schools.

GEA eliminated, Foundation Aid increased

The state instituted the GEA in 2009-10 to help address its own budget shortfalls brought on by the fiscal crisis at that time. Since then, school districts have lost a specified amount of state aid annually through the GEA. Arkport’s cumulative share of withheld aid is $3.37 million.The end of the GEA means state aid will not be reduced in this manner in 2016-17, an effective increase in funding that totals $434 million statewide.

The $627 million, or 4 percent, increase in Foundation Aid – the primary source of funding for everyday school operations – is the largest since the fiscal crisis began. However, it is also well below the New York State Board of Regents’ recommendation of a $1.3 billion Foundation Aid increase for next year. Arkport’s share of the increase comes to $48,902. Included in the approved statewide increase is $100 million for community schools initiatives in various districts across the state. 

The Regents have highlighted the important role state aid will play in the year ahead due to the restrictive tax levy cap schools are facing. Due to low inflation last year, districts were required to plug a near-zero growth factor into the tax levy cap formula. This limits the availability of local revenue to keep up with cost increases in many districts.

The Arkport administration and Board of Education continue to develop a budget for the 2016-17 school year. Budget adoption is expected on April 13. A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 4, in the Performing Arts Center. The annual budget vote is Tuesday, May 17, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., in Arkport’s small gymnasium. Please check the district website and your mail for budget updates over the next two months.

Additional education policies and funding in the budget

The 2016-17 state budget also includes, or in some cases does not include, several other noteworthy items related to education:

  • Teacher/Principal Evaluations: The budget did not remove the requirement that, in order for schools to receive their state aid increases for this year and next, they must comply with the changes enacted last year to the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) law. APPR governs teacher and principal evaluations. Under the current law, districts must have an approved plan that meets the latest iteration of APPR regulations by Sept. 1, 2016, in order to receive state aid increases for both 2015-16 and 2016-17. Many districts are currently operating with waivers from last year’s changes and had advocated for action in the state budget to remove the possibility of losing aid due to APPR. Arkport has an APPR plan that complies with the new requirements.
     
  • Community Schools: The budget includes $175 million to help implement community schools initiatives in certain designated high-needs districts and for schools that have been identified as failing by the state. Community school efforts can include academic, health and social services for students and families. As noted above, $100 million of this funding is from an increase included in Foundation Aid for certain schools. Arkport will not receive any of this funding.
     
  • Charter Schools: The state budget includes nearly $55 million in additional support for charter schools statewide through an increase of $430 per pupil to a total of $14,457. This represents growth of 3 percent in per pupil funding.
     
  • STAR: The state budget does not cap annual growth in the School Tax Relief (STAR) program at zero percent, as proposed by the governor in January.
     
  • Universal Prekindergarten: The budget continues an annual investment of $340 million to support prekindergarten programs across the state and calls for an expansion for 3-year-olds. As of this school year, 460 of the state’s 674 school districts offer prekindergarten slots to 120,582 children.

Additional resources


March 28, 2016

Learn about school budgets in under 3 minutes

Want to better understand the fundamentals of school district budgets? Check out this video produced by the Capital Region BOCES Communication Service:



 


March 22, 2016

Budget 101 Infographic

Interested in learning more about how school districts like Arkport develop a mulitmillion-dollar budget? Check out this Budget 101 infographic, designed by the Capital Region BOCES, which provides a simple, step-by-step overview of the annual school budget development process. Click on the image for an enlarged view.

Budget 101 infographic



Jan. 14, 2016

Gov. Cuomo outlines school aid proposal and education agenda for 2016-17 

money graphicJan. 14, 2016 On Wednesday, Jan. 13, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented a state budget proposal that includes a $991 million school aid increase for 2016-17.

The governor outlined his education agenda as part of the combined 2016 State of the State and Executive Budget Address. His proposals include support for struggling schools, expanding universal prekindergarten, new investments to benefit charter and nonpublic schools, and changes to the school tax relief (STAR) program. Cuomo also called on the New York State Education Department to enact the recent recommendations of his Common Core Task Force.

School aid falls below education groups’ recommendations

The budget proposal contained a $2.1 billion total school aid increase over a two-year period covering the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years. The $991 million increase proposed for the first of those years would represent a 4.3 percent increase in state education funding, bringing it to a total of $24.2 billion next school year. However, the proposed year-to-year increase is less than half of what the state Board of Regents and statewide education groups have said schools need next year to ensure students’ success.

Locally, the total aid proposed for Arkport in 2016-17 is $6,120,045, which represents an increase of 1.75 percent over this year.

The bulk of the aid increase proposed for next year would be split in three ways: $408 million to reimburse schools for costs such as transportation, construction and BOCES services; $266 million for Foundation Aid, the main source of funding for general school operations; and $189 million to partially restore the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), a practice of diverting promised funding from schools that began six years ago to help the state deal with a budget shortfall at that time.

By contrast, in December, the Board of Regents recommended a $2.4 billion total school aid increase for 2016-17 alone. It called for a $1.3 billion increase in Foundation Aid next year and $434 million to end the GEA in one year, a priority for other statewide education groups as well.

The Executive Budget Proposal formally opens the budget negotiations between the governor and the New York State Legislature. In the coming months, the Assembly and the Senate will also release budget proposals. Legislators have until April 1 to adopt an on-time state budget.

Education agenda expands in proposal

In addition to the school aid proposals above, the governor’s executive budget also included several other items related to education.

  • Community schools: The proposal provides $100 million to implement community school initiatives such as health services and summer learning opportunities in districts with schools identified by the state as “failing” or “persistently failing” as well as in some targeted high-need districts.
  • Universal Prekindergarten: The proposal continues the state’s universal prekindergarten initiative by including $22 million for expanded access for 3-year-olds. As of this school year, 460 of the state’s 674 school districts offer prekindergarten slots to 120,582 children.
  • Charter schools: The proposal includes an additional $27 million in support for charter schools.
  • STAR: The proposal would cap annual STAR growth at zero percent. Enhanced STAR income verification would become mandatory, eliminating the need for seniors to re-apply for their benefit annually, according to the New York State Division of Budget. For new homeowners, the property tax exemption benefit of the School Tax Relief (STAR) program would change to a refundable personal income tax credit.
  • Parental Choice in Education Act: The proposal creates a $150 million program to provide tax credits for the following: donations to scholarships for low- and middle-income students to attend non-public schools or public schools outside of their home districts; donations to public school educational improvement programs such as prekindergarten and afterschool activities; eligible tuition expenses; and teacher expenses, up to $200, for the purchase of classroom supplies and materials.
  • Non-public school support: The proposal includes a $174 million, or 4 percent, increase in state aid for non-public schools.
  • Early College High School: The proposal includes a $4 million investment to expand early college programs for high school students.

In his address, Cuomo also urged the state Education Department to move forward with the recommendations of his recent Common Core Task Force, including reviewing and adjusting the Common Core standards and addressing issues with state assessments. He said the number of students who opted out of last year’s assessments signified a loss of parental trust in the state’s education system and acting on the task force’s recommendations would help restore it.

Additional resources

 



Nov. 18, 2015

BOE adopts 2016-17 budget development calendar

During its regular meeting on Nov. 18, the Arkport Board of Education adopted the 2016-17 budget development calendar, which can be found online here.
 



Arkport voters approve $10.6 million budget; elect one Board of Education member

Budget approval boxOn May 19, Arkport Central School District voters approved the district’s $10.6 million 2015-16 budget proposal, elected a new Board of Education member and passed two additional propositions.

Voters approved:

  • A $10,582,207 budget for the 2015-16 school year that decreases spending 0.51 percent (-$53,935), and carries a 1.35 percent tax levy increase ($43,101): 229 yes, 59 no.
  • The purchase of one school bus and one van for a total cost not to exceed $132,000: 208 yes, 67 no.
  • The election of new Board of Education member Michelle Chamberlin, who received 127 votes and will serve a five-year term starting July 1.
  • A proposal to re-establish a district capital reserve fund for a period of 10 years (until 2025): 206 yes, 59 no.

“We want to thank all those who took the time to vote today,” Superintendent of Schools Glenn Niles said. “A school district is only as strong as the support of the community it serves. It’s gratifying to know Arkport residents value – and want to preserve – the quality academic program provided each day by our faculty and staff.” 

The school district’s proposed 2015-16 tax levy increase of 1.35 percent was below the maximum Arkport could have passed with approval from a simple majority (50 percent plus one) of voters, per the state’s property tax levy limit law. The law requires each school district to calculate its own levy limit based on a complex multi-step formula. Any increase above this limit would have required approval of a supermajority, or at least 60 percent of voters.

Administrators reduced the tax levy increase – or the amount of revenue raised through property taxes – by employing a number of strategies, includingworking with area schools to provide more cost-effective special education services, sharing transportation maintenance service with Alfred-Almond Central School District and allocating $443,942 in district reserve funds.

“On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to thank the Arkport voters for approving this budget,” said board President Stephen Hoyt. “We’re confident this spending plan will empower us to fulfill the district’s mission: to educate our students to an increasingly higher level of academic performance and help them reach their potential.”
 



Arkport Board of Education adopts 2015-16 budget proposal

Budget at a Glance infoboxThe Arkport Board of Education voted April 8 to adopt  a $10,582,207 budget proposal for the 2015-16 school year that calls for a 0.51 percent decrease in spending compared with 2014-15 and carries a 1.35 percent tax levy increase.

The fiscal plan includes all existing academic programs and services; maintains all current extra- and co-curricular activities that take place after school; adds a summer remedial reading program for elementary students; introduces new, college-level course offerings at the high school level; restores student driver education to the school day; and increases staff development opportunities.

Please Vote flyerThe district’s $10.6 million budget proposal decreases spending by $53,935, compared to the 2014-15 school year, while increasing the tax levy by $43,101. District residents will vote on it 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 19.

“We feel fortunate to propose a plan to voters that not only maintains the integrity of Arkport’s academic program, but also enhances it in several areas,” Arkport Superintendent of Schools Glenn Niles said. “And we were able to do so while remaining respectful of our community’s local tax burden.”

Because Arkport’s proposed tax levy increase (1.35 percent) is below the maximum allowed for the district next year (2.39 percent), the budget will pass if a simple majority of voters (50 percent plus one) approves it, according to state law.

Revenue to fund the district’s proposed spending plan comes from two primary sources: 61 percent from state aid (including building aid) and 32 percent from the local tax levy, which is the total amount of money the district will collect from local property owners to support the school budget. Other smaller sources of revenue include payment in lieu of tax (PILOT) agreements and non-resident student tuition payments.

The final state budget allocates about $5.5 million in state aid to Arkport, excluding building aid. That’s $279,166 or 5.38 percent more than 2014-15. While the final state budget restored public school funding, the district still faces a $140,094 loss next school year under the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). Since 2009-10, the district has lost a cumulative $3,370,740 in state support due to the GEA.

Despite these challenges, the district has been able to present a budget proposal that increases the educational opportunities for Arkport students. The proposed 2015-16 plan calls for increased staff development, including additional training for teachers in how to use instructional technology in the classroom; and a six-week summer reading program for students who are at risk of regression in reading skills during the summer vacation.



April 1, 2015

State adopts 2015-16 budget
Schools to see more aid in approved state budget; increases tied to another reboot of teacher evaluation system

Budget logo graphicAfter an unusual state budget process that included a mid-session change in Assembly leadership and preliminary school aid data that was withheld from school districts by the governor, the Arkport Central School District expects an estimated $476,946 increase in state funding over the current year as part of the final state budget approved by the State Legislature. (That figure is based on estimates for BOCES and high-cost aid and could decrease by the time those actual amounts are known later in the year.) To receive the increase, legislators approving the budget are requiring that the district retool its teacher evaluation plan – known as the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) – under a new set of undetermined rules. The plan must be approved by the State Education Department by Nov. 15.

The district’s 9.41 percent year-to-year increase, approved as part of a $150 billion state spending plan for 2015-16, is exclusive of building aid, which is paid to the school districts by the state for capital improvement costs already incurred.

The amount includes a $262,522 restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment – or GEA. This represents a partial restoration of the amount that has been deducted annually from the district’s promised state aid since 2010. The GEA has been used as a way to help the state balance its budget. Statewide, nearly $10 billion in school aid has been removed from districts since the GEA was introduced. Legislators have agreed to end the GEA permanently in 2016-17.

The final 2015-16 state budget, approved just before 3 a.m. on April 1, included some elements of the education reform measures championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Most hotly debated among the reforms were mandated requirements that will require every school district in the state to negotiate a new version of the APPR for the evaluation of teachers and principals. This will be the fourth APPR plan in five years for school districts and the second time in recent years that school aid will be linked to the state’s approval of a local system for rating teacher effectiveness. A similar approach was used in the 2012-13 state budget to incentivize school districts to meet APPR state mandates.

“I’m thrilled we got an increase and cautiously optimistic we’ll be able to make our budget with minimal impact to local taxpayers,” Arkport Superintendent of Schools Glenn Niles said. “But the devil is in the details, many of which are still undetermined. Not knowing the specifics of the new evaluation system and how our state aid will be tethered to it makes planning difficult.”

Legislators approving the state budget have assigned the State Education Department (SED) to be in charge of overhauling the new APPR evaluations. It is believed the system will retain a similar scale used now for rating teachers, known as a four-tiered HEDI scale: Highly Effective; Effective; Developing and Ineffective. There was no language contained in the approved budget bills that defines exactly how a teacher/principal effectiveness rating will be determined, although it will be based, in most cases, on two determining factors: student performance on assessments and classroom observations.

The state will assume a much greater role in determining teacher effectiveness than under the current system. Student performance will be reflected in growth scores based on state assessments, state-determined Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) and other “optional” assessments that must be approved by the State Education Department, according to some of the details contained in the bill. Classroom observations must be conducted by both the building principal and an “independent” evaluator.

The district will be analyzing the details of the new APPR rules as they become available and reviewing the state budget to determine its short- and long-term impact on the Arkport Central School District.

The following is a brief overview of the state budget as it pertains to education in New York:

  • State aid – The 2015-16 state budget includes a $1.3 billion year-to-year increase in aid to school districts statewide. Local aid increases are tied to new APPR teacher evaluation plans. A district must have a plan approved by November 15, 2015, in order to receive any increase in aid over 2014-15. The Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) has been partially reduced in 2015-16 and is scheduled to end in 2016-17.
  • Teacher evaluations – The New York State Education Department will oversee the latest overhaul of the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) for teachers and principals. There will be two components to teacher evaluations: student performance on assessments and classroom observations. The value assigned to each component has not been determined. The budget also establishes strict new rules for educators who are rated “ineffective” in two or more consecutive years.
  • Teacher tenure – The probationary period for teachers and principals is increased from three years to four years. Teachers must have effectiveness ratings of either “Highly Effective” or “Effective” in three out of the four years to qualify for tenure. A teacher or principal who is rated “Ineffective” in year four cannot be granted tenure, but can have the probationary term extended by one year.
  • Underperforming schools – The budget sets a timeline for schools that are deemed “chronically underperforming” to improve or face consequences. Districts would be required to have improvement plans approved by the State Education Department and meet objectives contained within the plan. Schools would have one or two years to demonstrate improvement depending on how long it has been underperforming. Failure to show improvement could result in a school being put into receivership, with control of the school being handed over to a state-designated non-profit. 

Visit Education Speaks to learn more about the 2015-16 state budget.

Visit the Arkport Central School District’s budget web page for more information about the impact of the state budget on the 2015-16 school budget proposal as it becomes available.

Copyright 2015, Capital Region BOCES School Communications Portfolio; All rights reserved. For more information or permission to use, call 518-464-3960.


Feb. 17, 2015 
 

Assembly and Senate bills introduced that would compel state to fully end the GEA this year

On Jan. 28, Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) and Senator Patrick Gallivan (R-Elma) introduced bi-partisan legislation (Assembly Bill A.2271 and Senate Bill S.2743) that would result in an immediate end to the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) in 2015-16 and thereafter provide school districts with the full amount of state aid they are legally allowed to receive.

Since it was first introduced in 2010-11, the GEA has deducted more than $9 billion in state aid from schools throughout New York. If these bills become law, the $1 billion remaining in GEA that would have been withheld will be fully restored to state aid this year.

To help get this important legislation passed, districts are encouraging their residents to contact local assembly and senate members to urge them to become co-sponsors of the bills (Assembly Bill A.2271 and Senate Bill S.2743) and to work for the passage of the legislation in their house.

Both legislators elected to represent Arkport Central School District have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. To thank them for their support and to urge them to work to get the bill passed, residents are encouraged to contact:

  • Assemblyman Bill Nojay (133rd Assembly District)
    Legislative Office Building, Room 527
    Albany, NY 12248
    518-455-5918

    Email: NojayW@assembly.state.ny.us
     
  • Senator Thomas F. O’Mara (58th Senate District)
    Legislative Office Building, Room 848
    Albany, NY 12247
    518-455-2091

    Email: omara@nysenate.gov

Here are sample letters you can download, sign and mail to your lawmakers.

In the past five years, Arkport Central School has lost more than $3.4 million to the GEA.

Tell your legislators the stories of how the GEA has hurt your children and schools through the elimination of jobs and programs. Urge them to call for an immediate end to this devastating legislation. The more legislators hear from constituents, the better the chances they will make the GEA a priority issue this legislative session.

For more information on advocating for education, including a printable Advocacy Toolkit, visit our advocacy home page.




Jan. 23, 2015

school budget logo

Update: No aid increase for next two years unless Legislature approves Cuomo’s proposal

According to language in Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget bill, if the legislature does not enact the education reforms the governor outlined in his budget address on Wednesday, Jan. 21, districts will not receive any aid greater than their 2014-15 amount for each of the next two years. 

Complicating matters for districts, the Division of Budget announced that it would not be releasing school aid runs until the Legislature passes the governor’s education reform agenda. The aid runs are usually released within hours of the governor’s budget presentation.

The reforms Mr. Cuomo proposed include an overhaul of the existing teacher evaluation law, more stringent tenure requirements, funding to expand preschool programs, lifting the cap on charter schools, and a new turnaround process for the state’s lowest performing schools.

In all, the $1.1 billion school aid increase includes just more than $1 billion in new school aid, $25 million for expanded preschool programs, and $25 million for other education reforms.

The Executive Budget Proposal now heads to the state legislature for consideration. A final state budget is expected by April 1, 2015.

Copyright 2015, Capital Region BOCES School Communications Portfolio; All rights reserved. For more information or permission to use, call 518-464-3960.



Jan. 23, 2015

Governor calls for $1.1 billion school aid increase and education reforms, with no mention of the GEA

[This story was updated on Jan. 23 to reflect the current interpretation of the governor’s budget bill regarding aid increases.]

Under the Executive Budget Proposal outlined by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 21, state funding for schools would increase by $1.1 billion next year – provided state lawmakers go along with a series of education reforms that he described as “ambitious” in his combined budget address and State of the State message.

The reforms Mr. Cuomo proposed include an overhaul of the existing teacher evaluation law, more stringent tenure requirements, funding to expand preschool programs, lifting the cap on charter schools, and a new turnaround process for the state’s lowest performing schools.

An additional $1.1 billion in state aid next year would represent a 4.8 percent increase over the current year. 

According to language in the Governor’s proposed budget bill, if the Legislature does not enact the education reforms he outlined, districts will not see an increase in state aid next year or the year after.

The governor also did not address the Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA, which is the mechanism through which the state has diverted promised school funding over the last five years to meet other budget priorities. In that time, schools have lost more than $9.52 billion cumulatively to the GEA, and they are still owed $1.04 billion.

The overall proposed increase in aid falls short of the $2 billion or more that the New York State Board of Regents and leading education groups have called for to meet the needs of students next year.

“It is unfortunate that the governor’s proposal is holding the school budget process hostage while seeking to further change an educational system that’s still reeling from changes hastily implemented in the recent past,” Arkport Superintendent of Schools Glenn Niles said. “It is also discouraging to see the governor fail to acknowledge our schools’ greatest needs: help with students in poverty and those in need for mental health services.

“I also take exception to the governor’s message that our schools are failing,” Mr. Niles continued. “While I acknowledge there are system weaknesses and pockets where students are not performing well, there are also schools, like Arkport Central, that are doing great things for kids and doing well at preparing all students for the future.” 

The state’s budget office has not yet released the 2015-16 school aid “runs,” which list how much additional money each of the state’s nearly 700 school districts would get under the governor’s budget proposal. After the governor’s speech, Budget Director Bob Megna told reporters the runs, typically released in tandem with the executive budget, would not be distributed until after the Legislature passes a state budget.

The governor also is proposing to make permanent the state’s property tax levy cap, which is set to expire after this current year, as well as a new “circuit breaker” tax reduction program. This would reduce property taxes for some homeowners and renters based on income and the amount of their tax bills.

If the Legislature does not enact the reforms Mr. Cuomo outlined, he said the increase in school aid next year would drop to $377 million.

The series of education reforms Mr. Cuomo called for included changes to how districts evaluate teachers and principals. Under the existing process, evaluation scores consist of essentially three components: classroom observations, growth on state test scores and locally selected learning targets, and additional measures of student achievement. Scores on these components result in a rating of highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective.

In his speech, the governor outlined a plan that would change the evaluation process so that 50 percent of scores are based on state exams and the other 50 percent on observations. While many other details of this plan are still unknown, Gov. Cuomo did say the elements of the scoring system for teacher observations would be set in state law, rather than locally negotiated as they are now.

Mr. Cuomo also said teachers would have to be rated highly effective or effective in both areas to receive an overall rating of highly effective or effective, and that this process would eliminate much of the local testing taking place in school districts under the existing evaluation process.

Under Mr. Cuomo’s plan, a teacher who has two consecutive “ineffective” ratings would be removed from his or her teaching position.

The budget proposal includes funding to continue rewarding teachers with annual stipends who are deemed highly effective and who mentor their peers. The governor would also create a teacher-in-residency program akin to what is provided for doctors and offer free tuition to top SUNY/CUNY graduates who commit to teaching in New York schools for five years.

The governor's proposal also continues to provide grants for the "P-Tech" Pathways in Technology and Early College High School program, which connects high school to two years of college in the STEM fields.

Mr. Cuomo outlined a plan to address what he called “failing schools” that would allow a nonprofit, turnaround expert or another district to take over a school after three years of poor results. This entity would be charged with overhauling the curriculum, terminating underperforming staff and recruiting high-performing educators. These schools would be given priority in a variety of state grant programs, and the students would be given priority in charter school lotteries.

The governor proposed combining the charter school caps for New York City and the rest of the state into one statewide cap and increasing it by 100 new charter schools, for a total cap of 560. Under the existing caps, there are 24 slots left for new charter schools in New York City and 159 slots available statewide. The governor also proposed legislation to ensure charter schools serve “their fair share” of high-needs populations in relation to public schools, including English language learners, students living in poverty, and students with disabilities.

Mr. Cuomo also proposed an additional $365 million in spending for universal prekindergarten, in line with the plan approved last year to phase in $1.5 billion over five years to expand prekindergarten access statewide. He also called for $25 million for new preschool programs for 3-year-olds in the state’s highest-need school districts.

In all, the $1.1 billion school aid increase includes just more than $1 billion in new school aid, $25 million for the preschool initiative, and $25 million for other education reforms.

The Executive Budget Proposal now heads to the state legislature for consideration. A final state budget is expected by April 1, 2015.

Copyright 2014, Capital Region BOCES School Communications Portfolio; All rights reserved. For more information or permission to use, call 518-464-3960.



Nov. 12, 2014

The Board of Education on Nov. 12, 2014, adopted the 2015-16 Budget Development Calendar.



May 8, 2015

2015-16 Budget Statement

School districts are required by state law to make copies of their "Budget Statements" available in district buildings as well as online.

The Budget Statement consists of: