April 14, 2021
Budget Prioritizes Addressing Learning Loss, Sustainability
WLEA STAFF REPORTS
HORNELL — The 2021-2022 Hornell City School budget was presented at a meeting of the Board of Education on Wednesday.
The $39,843,578 budget represents a revenue neutral plan, shrinking about $36,000, and involves no change from the previous year’s tax levy. It also complies with New York State’s tax cap that would have allowed a $4,100 increase this year.
Superintendent Jeremy Palotti hailed the budget plan as “balanced and sets us up for fiscal health not just this year, but in the coming years as well.”
Major priorities for the budget included supporting learning loss caused by COVID-19 restrictions, establishing long-term stability, continuing current programming, evaluating enrollment and staffing as needed, continuity of capital outlay projects and continuing to offer professional development for staff.
The new budget was aided by three phases of COVID relief funding and an across-the-board increase in state aid, including a $500,000 boost in foundation aid and a more than four percent raise in aid overall. An initial threat of a 20 percent cut in aid never came to fruition – much to the relief of administrators.
“Compared to where we were last month sitting around this table, this is good news,” District Business Official Pat Flaitz said.
However, the district is budgeting with an eye for skepticism regarding the sustainability of funding, as new state aid is reliant on one-time federal support and revenue is not guaranteed to grow as the state has forecast in coming years.
A public vote on the budget will happen on May 18, with a workshop to take place on May 4 at the Hornell High School Auditorium.
In other news:
Following the successful lead of other schools, the district is adding counseling and support for “at risk students” who may not make it to graduation as a result of COVID or general teenage issues.
Construction work at the High School Guidance Office has been completed. Other ongoing capital project tasks are wrapping up and work on roofing will happen in the coming months. The scope of work on the next capital outlay project cannot be state approved until after the May 18 budget vote.
Schools welcomed back students full-time following the COVID-19 restrictions, with positive reports and administrators noting relief from parents as they drop their children off in the morning. Educators were praised for their efforts to re-acclimate students to in-person learning.
The school district is planning for one, large, in-person graduation ceremony much like the traditional model. If all things go according to plan, it will take place at the end of June in an outdoor setting.
Several professional support staff appointments were made with no opposition.
The retirement of Jim Miller was accepted after 29 years of service.
The retirement of Karen Kuhn was accepted after 24 years of Service.
Spring coaching assignments were accepted — all positions were filled.
The next meeting will be April 21, 2021, a special meeting to endorse the next BOCES budget. The meeting will be conducted via Zoom. The next regular meeting of the board will be on May 4 and a budget hearing will precede the regular meeting.