The Putnam Examiner

More State Aid Helps Putnam Valley Schools’ Budget

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As schools districts across Putnam County received additional state aid than originally anticipated, Putnam Valley Central school district looked at ways to integrate the additional funding into the proposed budget already on the table Thursday night.

During last Thursday’s school board meeting, school officials and school board members discussed the dilemma of where the extra funds could go. After receiving $480,000 in additional state aid, the school board looked at a way to find equity between increasing educational value while lessening the burden on taxpayers.

The board recommended the district restore 2.4 staffing positions that would originally not be included in the proposed budget. The board also recommended the district reduces the tax levy by $35,000.

“We’ve always taken a balance approach to keep in mind everyone in the community,” board of educations president Valerie Fitzgerald said. “So we have to keep in mind of everybody in the community so I think that just goes to say we have looked at a balance approach. That’ll everyone will get something back from this money we didn’t expect to get to begin with.”

With two teachers retiring at the end of the year, the district did not plan on replacing those two departed positions. Now, $190,000 will go to staffing, though Fitzgerald said the board isn’t going to designate the 2.4 positions for a certain subject.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Barbara Nuzzi, along with Putnam Valley Principal Vincent Burruano said during the meeting using .4 of that funding for staffing should go to the science department. With more rising seniors for next school year, the .4 would be able to ensure additional courses like advance placement class would be available.

Fitzgerald said once the district has a better idea of what it needs for upcoming tests, a final decision would be made about how the 2.4 positions would be determined.

“After all these new testing are done we’re going to sit down and evaluate where the positions would be best be used for the students’ education,” Fitzgerald said. “So until we have that data, we don’t where they’ll be.”

Once that data is received and examined, Fitzgerald said the board would defer to school officials on where the positions would be most useful.

While adding educations opportunities was one aspect the board had in mind, it also wanted to focus on community members that might not have any vested in the school system. By reducing the tax levy by $35,000, the new tax levy would be 2.7 percent. In the original proposed budget, the tax levy was 2.8 percent, which was under the tax cap.

At this point, one direction the board did not choose to take was putting some money back in the reserve for the retirement contribution.

Two committees also spoke during the meeting about the budget and where they think the extra funds should go.

Some members of the Citizen Advisory Committee said in a prepared statement that it felt money should be used for more staffing and also to replenish some of the reserve funds that “would allow for future planning.”

The PTA also added its input but saying in a statement it also supported replacing the two retired teachers that would “immediately help to resolve the issue of high class sizes currently in place and alleviate the potential for increased class sizes for the coming year.”

Nuzzi said at the start of the meeting she felt the original proposed budget was done in a “thoughtful, methodical, process” and one that is educationally sound. Fitzgerald agreed and said the more money coming Putnam Valley was “wonderful.”

“I thought it was about time they give us money back,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve cut over $3.6 million over the last three to four years and this is just the beginning. If they want to educate and meet the course standards, they need to give us the help.”

The board has until April 26 to adopt a budget, which would be done at its next meeting April 18, unless the board holds another meeting to hash out more issues in implementing the new-found state aid.

The vote on the budget will be held Tuesday, May 21.

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