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2013-14 Budget

POSTED 4/23/2013
OESJ Board of Education adopts 2013-14 budget
The first budget for the newly merged Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Central School District would allow the district to improve its educational programs without increasing taxes for district residents next year. 

At its organizational meeting Thursday, April 18, the OESJ Board of Education adopted a nearly $18.1 million proposed budget for 2013-14. Calling for no increase in taxes, the new district’s tax levy – $4,830,151 – is equal to the two separate levies paid by Oppenheim-Ephratah and St. Johnsville residents last year. For 2012-13, the Oppenheim-Ephratah tax levy was $2,443,412 and St. Johnsville’s was $2,386,739.

OESJ residents will vote on the proposed $18,088,119 budget Tuesday, May 21. Polls will be open from noon-8 p.m. at the David H. Robbins Elementary School in St. Johnsville.

Complete budget documents will be posted to the district's website in the near future. At its next meeting, Wednesday, April 24 [see agenda]the board is expected to set a date for a public hearing on the budget.

As a result of the merger, the district is set to receive $1,466,161 in state merger incentive aid next year and an increase of approximately $300,000 in basic operating aid compared to what the two former districts combined received in the last state budget.

That increase in aid will allow the district to increase staffing and improve educational programs for the first time in years.

“Leading up to the merger, the two districts were in fiscal crisis and had experienced years of cuts,” HFM BOCES District Superintendent Dr. Patrick Michel said. “The merged district is no longer in such a crisis. With the increased aid, the new board of education now has the opportunity to improve the quality of education while providing financial stability for the district for years to come.”

OESJ’s budget proposal calls for adding an English language arts coach and a math coach for the coming school year. These positions will offer support and guidance for all teachers to improve student performance in these areas. 

A kindergarten teacher also would be added and a current part-time pre-kindergarten teaching position would be made full time. The merged district will offer full-day UPK at both its elementary schools.

The budget would also bring back driver’s education. St. Johnsville has not had a driver’s education program in many years, while Oppenheim-Ephratah cut its program for this year. Funding for two full-time librarians is also in the budget. The two districts currently have one part-time librarian each.

The budget also has funding for a bus mechanic/driver, a business teacher, a special education teacher, a remedial math teacher, a Spanish teacher and a part time IT technician.

The purchase of nearly $450,000 in computer hardware and software is included in the budget, as is the purchase of two buses – a 65 passenger and a 30 passenger. While funding is included in the budget to pay for the two buses, the merged district is eligible for 90 percent state reimbursement on bus purchase costs. 

In accordance with the finding and recommendations of the merger study, in addition to stabilizing taxes and providing funding to improve educational programs, the 2013-14 budget allocates $480,000 for district reserves.

“The new district should develop a plan to annually add to its reserves to offset the future loss of state merger aid and other revenues,” Dr. Michel said. “By using this money wisely now, we can build the foundation of a sustainable school district offering a 21st century education for its students.”

The state will maintain the current level of merger incentive aid during the next five years, after which it will decrease 4 percent a year until 2026-27.