Cassadaga Valley School Board Holds Last Hearing Before Vote

SINCLAIRVILLE – The time has come when anyone of voting age should be thinking about the future of their children’s education.

On Monday night, the Cassadaga Valley Board of Education held its budget hearing immediately after its regular board meeting. The board encourages area residents to come out and vote on the proposed budget on Tuesday from 2-8 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.

Some highlights of the proposed budget, which totals $20,093,000 for the 2014-15 school year, include:

Since there has been retirements of eight teachers and three non-instructional staff members this year, the board is proposing a restoration of previously cut positions. One elementary music teacher and one middle/high school art teacher will now be full-time. One vacant agriculture teaching position has been filled and one custodial position has been restored.

“With the additional staff we are now able to offer many new electives to high school students, and offer new distance learning course opportunities,” Business Administrator Debra McAvoy said.

High School Principal Josh Gilevski spoke in his report about these new choices for students and how excited everyone is about them.

“With JCC connections we have two more teachers who will teach the JCC courses next year. This gives us six more courses, which is a good thing,” he said. “We mapped out what we had in mind and will be ready with everything by the end of this month.”

Psychology, JCC history, two JCC English courses, biology, statistics, finance and problem solving are some of the classes students will now be able to get involved in. Psychology and JCC History will be offered as distance learning courses.

The budget increased $125,302 with a tax levy increase to 1.08 percent. The amount of the tax cap is $5,151,592, which keeps them under the 1.46 percent.

McAvoy explained this will be good for the school since it gets most of its help from state aid, 76 percent.

“We did our job to keep it under the tax cap, so it would not be a problem for people in the district if there is a refund,” Interim Superintendent Thomas Schmidt said.

If the budget does not pass Tuesday’s vote, there can be a re-vote June 3, and if the budget is denied twice, the board will have to adopt a contingency budget.

“Contingency is never good,” McAvoy said. “It would be bad because everything, equipment and everything would have to be cut. We want a positive vote.”

Contingency would mean several things to Cassadaga Valley: removal of all non-contingent items from the budget including equipment, salary increases for non-certified, non-union employees.

Equipment cut if contingency budget adapted:

Buildings and Grounds Departments

Fitness Center

Department equipment: agriculture, business, physical education, home and careers, industrial arts, band, science education, audio visual and athletics.

If the budget amount is still too high after making all those cuts, more cuts will be made to get the amount down.

The district would be able to charge fees for the use of the building for all outside groups.

It would no longer have the authority to buy buses or make interfund transfer to capital.

There are three items to consider on the ballots. Current board member David Christy is up for the vacant board member seat and running for the same seat is Beverly LeBaron.

School buses need to be approved so the school can purchase three buses for the new school year, which are financed over five years and the district receives a 90 percent reimbursement from state aid.

Establishment of a Capital Improvement Reserve Fund is number three on the list. This would not exceed $800,000 and act as a savings account for future capital projects, and fund the majority of local cost for improvements, and repairs school buildings and grounds if need be.