Capital Project Consideration

The purpose of this post is to help our community understand the process of developing a capital project and about how the financing works. This is not a simple post–it’s a complicated, lengthy topic and I will do my best to keep it straightforward. Please know that I write this in an effort to be transparent about our process. When my mom was alive she always provided me with feedback about my blog posts. She definitely would have said this one is TOO LONG and BORING. 😉

Our BOE is considering two contingent propositions for possible presentation for a public vote on March 24, 2015.

In the summer of 2013 the Randolph Board of Education and I began the process of evaluating and planning for a proposed capital project.  Every district conducts a five year plan that is submitted to the NYS Education Department and in that plan, we analyze all aspects of our buildings and grounds to identify and prioritize our areas of need. Good planning means identifying critical items and then putting them together in a capital project to minimize the local share of expenses–in our case an approved capital project that meets all of the guidelines of NYSED will result in about an 83.5% state share.

For Randolph Central, the structural, health and safety items –critical items– at this time include things such as replacing pumps, balancing valves, upgrade ventilation, replacing steam piping, improving state lighting controls and replacing stage rigging. The items also include things like replacement floors, a handicap toilet room in the elementary school, security cameras, urinal replacements, a few rooftop replacements, track replacement and some ADA required interior door hardware. I often refer to these items as the “non-glamorous” items, those things we NEED to take care of to be good stewards of our facilities and grounds.

The first possible proposition that the BOE is considering putting before the public for a vote, our essential NEED based items total almost $3 million dollars. Those items, from the very beginning in the summer of 2013, have been our priority. Taking care of what we already have and maintaining it–that’s what the BOE has directed me to do from day one in considering a project.

In planning any project, community input is valuable. We put out notices asking for volunteers to work with us. The BOE members and I formed a facilities committee to consider any other needs and or wants that we may have as a school district that would improve our facilities, our programs, or our services to students and the community.

A well meaning group of people met with us through the fall and winter of the 2013-14 school year to brainstorm those things that would improve our school district. No one’s ideas were immediately dismissed and everything from a swimming pool to a community center to new sports fields were discussed. The BOE facilities committee then met with me throughout the spring and summer to consider those suggestions and to try to determine the best course of action.

A major priority from the beginning of our work was to improve the traffic flow, configuration and parking on our campus. The safety of our students and community are our #1 priority, along with the essential NEED based items described above.  A lengthy process began in which we evaluated many different options for improving traffic flow with parent drop off locations, bus only zones, clear student walkways, and more parking. For a long time we talked about a demolition of the bus garage that sits right in the middle of our campus. We ultimately determined that this was not something everyone could support.

The final traffic flow plan drastically improves the safety of our campus while maintaining our existing bus garage. This plan, to be detailed in upcoming capital project presentations, totals about $4 million dollars.

The reality of financing always comes in to play and determining what we as a district and our taxpayers can afford is critical. Think about that 83.5% state share I mentioned in the beginning; where’s the other 17% coming from? We then look at our capital reserves and any unappropriated excess reserves we may have to determine how much we have that can be used to offset the cost to the local taxpayers. To keep it simple, all of that planning results in a project that we can put forward to the taxpayers of about $7 million dollars that will result in a minimal local share. How minimal? This $7 million project would result in a .65% increase or about $2 per year more on an $60,000 home for taxpayers with STAR; a zero increase for Senior STAR taxpayers; and for taxpayers who don’t have STAR because it’s a non-primary residence, it’s about $4 per year added to your taxes on a $60,000 home.

The BOE members are in the final stages of preparing to adopt a resolution to bring this project to the taxpayers. In addition they are considering putting forth a second, contingent (cannot pass unless the first proposition passes) proposition to the voters for a synthetic turf multipurpose field. While there were many other ideas from our original facilities committee that would be improvements for our district, the cost to our taxpayers precludes us from advancing any of them.

A second possible proposition for a mulipurpose synthetic turf field has been much more difficult for our BOE members to agree to put to the taxpayers.  Their dedication to maintaining a fair and reasonable tax levy (share of our budget that is paid for by the local taxpayers) is at odds with the consideration of a proposition to build something that would be NICE to have but isn’t necessarily something we HAVE to have. The BOE’s dedication to this is unquestionable as they have maintained a 0% increase to our taxpayers every year since the 2009-10 school year. That’s six years that our taxpayers have not had an increase, including two years of decreases.

Some think we should leave the decision of a synthetic turf multipurpose field up to the taxpayers. Put the Proposition #2 up for a vote separate from our Proposition #1, NEEDs based project. What kind of money would a separate proposition for this cost? It would be about an additional $2.6 million dollars. The addition of this proposition would result in the cost to the taxpayers increasing to a 4.37% total increase or about $13 per year more on a $60,000 home for taxpayers with STAR; a zero increase for Senior STAR taxpayers; for taxpayers who don’t have STAR because it’s a non-primary residence, it’s about $25 per year added to your taxes on a $60,000 home.

Taxpayers can rest assured that a BOE decision to put a project to the public for a vote has been thoroughly researched and considered. More to follow, look for a BOE discussion and vote on a resolution at the February 4, 2015 BOE meeting with a proposed March vote by the taxpayers.



BOE Election Nominating Extension

Update, Monday, May 5, 2014: BOE Candidate Marshall Johnson has declared to District Clerk Maureen Pitts that he has decided to remain with his current employer and to stay in the Randolph Central School District. Therefore he continues his race for a Randolph BOE seat and the names on the voting ballot will be as they were declared by the District Clerk in the district’s budget newsletter and in the Randolph Register: Marshall Johnson, Tom Deacon, and Incumbent BOE member Louise Boutwell. The election is for two BOE seats. We appreciate everyone’s interest in our school district! Thank you.

Please note, Friday, May 2, 2014: The following post may have been premature. Mr. Johnson talked with me Thursday, May 1 and gave me his statement of intent to withdraw but he did not follow through with an official withdrawal from the election with the District Clerk. The district clerk, Maureen Pitts, is the only person to whom candidates can declare their candidacy or withdraw candidacy. On Monday, May 5, we will have a declaration from Mr. Johnson regarding his intent to run. I apologize for any confusion. I contacted the school attorney and acted quickly to try to maximize the opportunity residents would have to declare an intent to run in this election. Unexpectedly, Mr. Johnson has not officially withdrawn and therefore the nominating period may not be extended. I’m grateful that as Marshall continues to make the best decisions for  his family, that he is also considering the implications of his professional decisions on the BOE election.  We very much appreciate everyone who runs for the BOE and their willingness to volunteer. More to follow on Monday, May 5, 2014.

We have two seats up for reelection on May 20. We had three candidates running, Marshall Johnson, Tom Deacon and Incumbent Louise Boutwell. Yesterday Marshall Johnson withdrew from the race. Because Board of Education elections are governed by school law, I researched the procedures in this situation and following is what I learned:

School LawNow I had to actually read that a couple of times to fully understand the wording. In short, the candidate did withdraw his petition on May 1, which is later than 15 days before April 21 which was the last day to file. So May 1 is later than April 6, follow? If you think about it, if it’s before April 6 that someone withdraws then it’s less relevant, residents still have two weeks in which to submit a nominating petition. Following through with this citation, we are required to extend the nominating deadline by as much as 15 days BUT no later than 5:00 pm on the seventh day before the election on May 20, which will be May 13.

Therefore we are now accepting nominating petitions until 5:00 pm on Tuesday, May 13. As before this extension, nominating petitions may be picked up from Maureen Pitts, District Clerk, who can be reached at 358-7005 between 7:30 am and 3:30 pm. They must be submitted to her, with at least 25 signatures, by 5:00 pm on Tuesday May 13.

Should we receive additional petitions, Mrs. Pitts will draw for the order on the ballot at 10:00 am on Wednesday, May 14.

Parent and Educator Rally on Monday, March 10

GEA RallyOver the past several days I have been in Albany with my superintendent colleagues from across the State of New York. On Tuesday we attended lobby day where we met with our legislators to try to influence them in the State Budget process. There’s a significant problem in education funding and it’s called the GEA (Gap Elimination Adjustment). The purpose of this post is to help everyone understand what’s happening in our State with regard to education funding and how it impacts us here at Randolph.

When you first read the words Gap Elimination Adjustment, it sounds like the governor is eliminating a gap in funding for schools, right? In fact it’s just the opposite. It was to help to eliminate the gap in the State budget. Only problem? The governor has been all over the media discussing the surplus he’s got now.

Basically the governor proposes how much state aid each district is entitled to and then he subtracts an amount from that figure. For example, his proposal for aid to Randolph this year (which includes about 16 different aid categories) is $12,708,810 (last year it was $12,910,111). His proposal then eliminates $435,199 of that aid. To further complicate the issue he then proposes a Gap Restoration of $163,231.

Now please consider the 2.0% tax cap making it so districts cannot raise the tax levy (this is the portion of the school budget that the local taxpayers fund) more than the cap. As you’re already realizing nothing is simple in school finance and the cap is similar. Randolph Central technically is permitted to raise taxes 3.6% this year under the cap but we would be unlikely to go beyond the 2.0% anyway. For this discussion, let’s consider the 2.0% which is $94,834.

What do you think is the greater financial concern for our district-the tax levy cap or future state aid levels? We aren’t a wealthy district from down state who raises the majority of our revenues through the taxation of our property owners. The School Funding Fairness in New York State report by Bruce D. Baker, Rutgers University, lists Randolph Central as one of 50 Districts in NYS with the largest formula funding shortfalls per pupil in 2013-14. We will have a shortfall of $271,968 under the governor’s proposal because of the Gap Elimination Adjustment. Raising taxes isn’t the answer and the burden on our local taxpayers is already high enough. That’s why we’ve worked hard to make cuts and to keep our expenses in check, so that we could deliver a budget to our taxpayers that included NO tax increase for the past five years.

Over 70% of districts are still receiving less state aid than they received in 2008-09. We have worked hard to use our excess reserves to meet the increases in our budget year after year. Luckily it’s taken us longer to reach the point of cutting programs or positions than most districts in NYS. We can attribute that to prudent financial management and planning.

BOE President Michael Evans explains the position of the Board of Education,

In our district we have a veteran team of school administrators and board members most with tenures extending over 15 years of involvement in the NYS education system.  David Chambers has led the district’s financial management efforts for over 22 years. Other veteran players involved include Superintendent Kimberly Moritz, and past Presidents David Adams and Louise Boutwell. We have been prudently trimming back on our fund balance and by using the monies held in the various reserve funds but, please understand we intend to continue to manage much the same as we have over the past many years. We do not intend to manage our local district finances the way the state or federal government have managed their own. We believe a general fund balance and prudent reserves are the common sense approach to managing given turbulent state and national financial situations.

On Monday, March 10, from 7-8:30 p.m., Southern Tier districts will join together in the Gymnasium of the Ellicottville Central School District, 5873 Route 219, Ellicottville, New York, to host “Rally to Restore GEA Funding Cuts.” The event will feature an overview of the crisis from fiscal expert Dr. Rick Timbs, Executive Director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium. Our intent is to highlight the looming educational crisis in our region and to kick off a season of citizen advocacy to address it.

We’ve done everything that’s been asked of us as expenses continue to increase and we’ve done so at 2008-09 state aid levels. Please join me at the Rally on Monday so that we can impact the thinking of the politicians who are making the decisions about 70% of our school budget.


An Open Letter to NYS Politicians

Dear NYS Politicians:

I write to you today first as a taxpayer and a registered voter, second as an educator. As a property taxpayer in both Erie and Cattaraugus counties and a wage earner in NYS, much of my salary goes to support programs in NYS and your salary, as well as my own as a public school employee. As a registered independent voter, I participate in every election. I appreciate that many of you are well intended individuals who work to make a difference in the communities you serve, for that I thank you. I point out that I am a voter and a taxpayer in the hope that it will get your attention as I am beginning to believe that winning elections is all that matters to many of our politicians in NYS.

What I do not appreciate are the ways in which many of you are over reaching and becoming involved in every aspect of my life. I am a reasonably intelligent woman, I would challenge that I am as intelligent as you are, and I do NOT need you to mandate every decision as if I’m totally incapable of deciding anything on my own. Rather than speaking to all of the personal freedoms and responsibilities that I’m concerned about, I will speak specifically to that area of which I have particular expertise, gained from 25 years in the field—public education.

We are in a period of transition in public education, one in which we are raising expectations and aligning content for the children of all of our NYS public schools. This is happening in a HUGE way and is a very complicated issue–some of it we’ve gotten really right and some of it we’re still working to get right. I wrote about some of the changes in a blog post earlier this week here. In our district, the Randolph Central School District, in which I am the superintendent, we have worked very hard to improve our academic programs for all students. Specifically, we have worked to align our curriculum to the common core standards. This has been incredibly hard work for everyone involved, including our teachers, students and parents. And it’s been worth it because our students will exit our school better prepared than students who graduated under the previous ambiguous, convoluted NYS learning standards.

What do I need from you? I need for you to direct those parents who are contacting you to talk to us, the experts in the field. You are not an expert in education.  It’s often been said that everyone who’s gone to public school considers himself to be an expert in education. Well I’ve flown on an airplane and I’m certainly not an expert in aviation. We have a system in place with the Board of Regents and the State Education Department and LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS (who by the way are unpaid servants in our communities) to govern our actions. When you hold forums and speak about common core on the news–you repeatedly demonstrate a poor grasp of the complex issues at hand (again read here, for a start) and you frankly confuse our parents and community members. Stop speaking out in your obviously limited understanding of common core and using public education as leverage in your political campaign. It’s self serving arrogance at its finest.

I have watched our commissioner of education hold public forums, attend Senate education committee hearings, and make himself accessible to our communities repeatedly. At every turn, MANY do NOT listen to him. Politicians and others continue to use those opportunities to advance an agenda, espousing rhetoric without a thorough grasp of the facts or any intention to accept there may be another side to the argument.

If as a fellow taxpayer, parent, or community member, you would like to meet with me to talk about the complex issues involved in transforming education—please contact me as I would gladly meet with you to discuss the changes, the problems, and the solutions. But if you really want to understand, you’d better give me more than 20 minutes on lobby day with one of your aides because you’ll never attain a clear, thorough picture otherwise.

If you truly care about public education and the children of this state, get out of the way. Allow the local school boards, the educators in the schools, and the current state education department leaders to do our jobs. We know it’s messy, we know what we need to do better. Talk to us about your concerns. Tell parents to talk to us about their concerns, then get out of the way and let us do it.


Kimberly Moritz, Randolph Central School Superintendent

P. S. Call me any time for a meeting, a phone call, to Skype, Google Hangout, whatever works! 716-358-7005

How to Stay Gracefully

When I took the job of superintendent at Randolph Central in October of 2008, no one thought I would stay here for the rest of my career, including me. My family had bets on it and I heard far too many times in those first years “but what happens when you’re gone?” When opportunity comes knocking, it’s hard to ignore. My mother’s words to me when I first considered if I should stay at Gowanda or apply at Randolph have never left me. She said, “Kimberly, you just have to pick a place and stay there or you’re never going to make the difference that you want to make.”

I’ve since watched school districts open and fill that I would have loved to apply to: Silver Creek and Jamestown, now Frontier and Hamburg, soon my home district of Gowanda. It’s wonderful to talk with someone who’s asking if I’ll consider applying. Boosts my ego a bit and all. My reply remains, “thank you for thinking of me but I’m committed to Randolph. The Board of Education makes a commitment to me every July when they extend my contract for another year. I can’t walk away from them, from my colleagues, or from the goals and the success that we’re realizing.”

The struggle I often have now is that my fourteen years of experience as an administrator, including what I’ve learned here as the superintendent, leave me thinking, “But I know what to do there to make things better!” I stay here because I believe in what we’re doing, in the teams that we’ve worked hard to develop and in our ability to change the world–or this little piece of it called Randolph Central School District. Sounds corny? But it’s true. Most significant to me personally, is that I get to be the kind of superintendent here that I want to be, one who knows our students and teachers and community members. Where else could I have students who want to come in and have lunch with me or talk to me about their problems or visit with me at athletic events?

I read an article yesterday by a veteran superintendent, When and How to Leave Gracefully. The author Art Stellar says,

While typically lacking such public revelations, every superintendent moves on professionally at some point, whether by personal choice or someone else’s. Superintendents are, more often than not, short-term hired hands, migratory workers on a professional level.

I understand that the author’s message is largely about recognizing when it’s time to move on and how to do so well. But his article made me want to write this post, How to Stay Gracefully.  If leading for significant, long lasting school improvement results from building relationships based on trust and mutual respect–then how does that happen when administrators are moving from district to district? According to a recent article in the Buffalo News, search consultant Vincent Coppola indicates there are about ten superintendent openings in NY now and projects another ten openings in January. I suggest that there are ways to stop this trend.

We need stability and commitment in school leadership. I’m not criticizing anyone for pursuing opportunities, I’m suggesting that staying the course is good for a District and for the superintendent. Just like in a marriage worth it’s salt, there are ups and downs–good days and bad. We employ honesty and listening skills and belief in the best intentions of the other person to get through it. Those are the same things we must use as leadership teams, BOE members and School Administrators, to stay the course together for the good of our schools and communities. Because you know what? Just like in a marriage, it’s unlikely that there’s someone or someplace better out there—you just haven’t had the time to figure out the faults or weaknesses of that other superintendent or school district yet.

How do we make a long term superintendency successful? Well for one thing, let’s talk about money. I know, no one who’s making the money wants to talk about it. But honesty and transparency are part of the gig as a public school administrator. Boards have to determine what their goals are–do you want to boast that you have the lowest paid administrators in three counties? Or do you want to secure a superintendent at a competitive salary so that she doesn’t have to pay attention to every opening in every neighboring district? Our School BOE did just that, without my request, three years ago. And while my good intentions, my mother’s words, and my plan to make a difference influence my thinking to stay here–let’s be honest. I would be considering other positions if I knew I would make much more money elsewhere–that’s what most people would do given the opportunity in any field.

Remember too that a superintendent is not awarded tenure and is accountable to the School Board, the community, the faculty and staff and the students on a daily basis–Districts aren’t tied to a superintendent who isn’t doing the job by a lengthy dismissal process. BUT, communities should view it as a long term commitment and once you realize you have someone who’s communicating with you honestly and listening to your elected School BOE while making good decisions for the District, you should pay a competitive salary to keep that person. The work of a school superintendent isn’t going to change drastically from one school to another.

Please talk openly and honestly with us about our shortcomings. I watched someone lose her job in my first year as an administrator, seemingly without warning, and I thought then, “that needs to never be me!” I need to be aware, to listen, and to improve my performance continually. As a school BOE don’t leave us to wonder what you’re unhappy with or where we’re falling short. Give us the opportunity to improve. Communication, honesty, commitment and relationships? Sounds much better than a revolving door of rookie administrators.

Calendar Change for THIS Year

The NYS Education Department did not release the 2011-12 testing dates until the end of August. The Grades 3-8 ELA Testing Dates are immediately following our scheduled two week Spring Break. Therefore, at last night’s BOE meeting our BOE adopted a revised calendar that moves our two week Spring Break back by one week. Instead of the first two weeks of April, we will now be on break the last week of March and the first week of April.

I realize there are all kinds of arguments, gripes, and opinions surrounding if and when children have breaks from school, some educationally centered and some for personal convenience. I also realize that some families may have already booked their vacations for this school year and that this will cause difficulty for those families. I truly regret the inconvenience this causes to our families. With the late release of the testing dates from the State Education Department, the only other decision we could have made would have been to let it ride and hope our students do well on the ELA state assessments.

I just don’t see how that’s fair to our students or teachers. Yes, we should be adequately preparing them all year. Yes, I understand it’s not about a week of test preparation. Yes, I know they’re young and it shouldn’t be all about testing. And yes, I know there are counter arguments to everything coming from NYSED.

BUT. We are a public school district working within the expectations and governance of NYSED. Coming off of a two week break our students aren’t even back into their routines of going to bed early and thinking about school. And yes they are young, so upon returning from the break, they likely won’t remember as much. And yes, these tests are high stakes. No one likes being at the bottom of the 96 school districts in Western New York—even the parents who may be frustrated that we’ve changed the break aren’t going to like it if Randolph doesn’t improve.

We are just as good as the other districts in Western New York, with extremely hard working teachers and excellent students. We’re working hard to better align what we’re teaching to the NYS curriculum and to identify what each child needs to succeed. Leaving the break the way it is and rolling the dice that everything would work out anyway just seemed like betting against ourselves to me. I’m not willing to do that because I believe we’re on our way UP academically. As our BOE President said, “we’re in the education business, not the vacation business.”

Budget Passes Successfully

I know it’s not very exciting for the rest of the world, but May 18 is a big day when you’re a superintendent. I’d say it’s like the Super Bowl for us, but I’m thinking that’s probably overstating it a bit. I’m grateful and delighted to see that we overwhelmingly passed our budget yesterday and our purchase and refinancing of vehicles. Thank you Randolph.

We worked hard to put forth a budget that is responsible to our taxpayers while maintaining our educational programs. Passing Proposition #1, the Budget, 436 to 122 is gratifying.

This morning I’m also thinking about the eleven candidates who put themselves out there in the public eye by running for the Board of Education. To each of you, I say a huge thank you. It takes courage and dedication to the children of our school district to throw your hat into the ring, particularly in a year with eleven candidates running–it’s more likely you’ll lose than win with four open seats and eleven candidates.

Here are the results:

  • Proposition #1, Budget  Yes 436, No 122
  • Propostion #2, Purchase and Refinancing of Vehicles  Yes 378, No 156

Board Member Vote Results:

338 Michael Evans

318 Daniel Jackson

307 Julie Milliman

271 Thomas Shields (completes the 3 year term vacated by Dan Philblad)

267 Tonia McAllister

147 Carol Luce

144 Timothy Pence Jr.

133 Elizabeth Lerow

113 Robert Gebhard

63 Thomas Deacon

56 Timothy Plaskett

Again, thank you to all of our outstanding candidates and to our community for once again, supporting RCS!

Reflections on Randolph

As I sat in our auditorium last night, listening to our eleven BOE candidates interview at the PTA’s Meet the Candidate Night, I was again thankful to be the superintendent of schools HERE. In what other superintendency would I possibly find this kind of support for the school? The vast majority of residents in Randolph and our surrounding communities truly love our school and our community.

Candidates were randomly asked questions about everything from making BOE decisions, to their position on tenure, to integration of technology, to the economic crisis, term limits, collective bargaining agreements, and substitute coverage. They had potential questions sent to them in advance from the PTA and then had numbers drawn to determine which four each would be asked. Their answers were thoughtfully prepared and showed much about who the candidates are and what they stand for in this election. You can watch the event on our school website by linking here so if you couldn’t make it last night, you can watch  and be an informed voter on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.

So why did last night’s interviews remind me of how thankful I am to be the superintendent here? The majority of the candidates were overwhelmingly positive about the school and the community in their answers to “what would you say to a family who is considering a home purchase in Randolph to persuade them that this is where they want to raise a family and educate their children?” I could hear the pride that many have in everything that we are at RCS and I understand the responsibility that I have personally to perpetuate our RCS success.

Last night I listened to candidates who want to be involved in our school through BOE service for many reasons but most of all, I heard residents who want to be a part of a winning team. Busy residents who are taking the time to say I support our school and I want to be a part of seeing to its continued success. I don’t see how we can lose with that kind of support!

Board of Education Election

In our upcoming BOE election on May 18, 2010, we have eleven district residents running for four BOE seats. This is a wonderful testimony to the community of Randolph and the commitment that our residents have to our public school system!

In some BOE elections, BOE seats either go uncontested or worse, districts struggle to find anyone to run.  What do you have to do  in Randolph to know how involved and supportive our community is? Attend just about any sporting event, witness the number of people who travel to watch our kids play in section or state competitions, visit during the Academic Fair or a concert or the Musical, join our Facebook page, or come to the packed house at Graduation. Randolph supports our school in a BIG WAY and this election is more proof of it.

So who’s running? Incumbents Tonia McAllister, Julie Milliman and Tom Shields are running again.  Michael Evans, who’s been serving in the second year of Dan Philblad’s term, is running in this election. When Dan moved out of the district, Michael Evans, who had previously served on the BOE, was appointed for one year. After this election, the candidate who wins the fourth highest number of votes will serve out the third year of what was Dan Philblad’s 3 year term.

This BOE election also brings back long time BOE member Carol Luce into the running and former candidate Robert Gebhard throws his hat into the ring. We welcome five newcomers to the BOE race: Daniel Jackson, Timothy Plaskett, Timothy Pence, Jr., Thomas Deacon, and Elizabeth Lerow.

The Randolph Register and the Post Journal will likely run stories on the election. Voters can also learn more about the candidates and their positions at the PTA’s Meet the Candidates Night, held here in the RCS Auditorium on May 11, 2010 immediately following the Public Hearing which begins at 6:30 pm.

Please remember to cast your vote on May 18, 2010 from 2:00-8:00 pm in the high school cafeteria. And a special thank you to all eleven of our candidates for your willingness to volunteer your time and efforts for our students and our school!

Budget 2010-2011

As we are well aware by now, this is a challenging budget year for everyone, including school districts. The RCS Board of Education, Administration and Staff have worked for months on the 2010-2011 budget with two goals in mind. The first goal has been to maintain a 0% increase to our taxpayers, who we recognize may be struggling in this economic time. The second goal has been to maintain our quality of education and programs for our students to the extent possible.

We are pleased to announce that our 2010-2011 budget accomplishes both goals. How did we do it? Our teachers, staff and administration prepared the individual parts of our budget with a 0% increase in mind, determining to make the amount we had budgeted last year work for us again. At the same time, the Administrative Staff worked to identify those positions that we could consider for reductions. With the Governor’s Proposal of a decrease in our state aid of $595,958 (Gap Elimination Adjustment), we prioritized our possible reductions and made the tough decisions necessary. Readers may remember that last year we had reductions that included a middle school principal and two reading teachers.

What do the actual numbers look like? After considering all of our increases to items like payroll, utilities, transportation costs, and other contractual costs, we have an overall budget decrease of $37,441 (-0.2%) and  no increase to the local tax levy.  For more details, look for our budget newsletter which will be mailed to every home in April.

Our 2010-11 budget includes the elimination of our School Resource Officer, our Technology Coordinator and one special education teacher. We also employ a part time curriculum coordinator through BOCES who we are planning to share with another school district next year. Instead of working at Randolph 3 days per week, she will work at Randolph two days and another district two days.  These four reductions account for $219,000 of the $595,958 cut from state aid. The remaining $377,000 will come from our unappropriated fund balance. Because of the excellent fiscal management of this Board of Education over the past several years, we can use the $377,000 from fund balance and still maintain enough additional funds to help again next year. The news we continue to hear about next year’s State budget is even worse than this year.

If need be in the future, we can look again at our prioritized list of reductions for the 2011-2012 school year. They are not positions we plan to cut at this time but are positions and programs that in the worst of times, we are able to eliminate from our school district.  Unfortunately, many of our neighboring districts are forced to look at reductions to these programs for the 2010-2011 school year.

What might those reductions include? Programs that districts are not mandated to include like an elementary library media specialist, an elementary classroom teacher (which would  impact class size), an In School/Out of School Suspension program, a business teacher, a school nurse, modified athletics, music and/or art programs.  Let’s hope we don’t reach that point next year either. We will continue to make fiscally responsible decisions on behalf of our students and our taxpayers. No one wants to see us cut programs, but the reality of the state budget does affect us in Randolph too.  I can’t wrap everyone in a protective bubble and shield them  from the reality of this economic crisis. I wish that I could, but that would be less than honest.  We are managing the cuts as well as or better than any other district, but I have no crystal ball to tell me how long the state budget crisis will continue or how severe the cuts to state aid will be. Bottom line, it’s tough all over and we’re doing okay.

To our incredible faculty and staff: Decisions like the reductions listed above will not be taken lightly. They will be made only if absolutely necessary and in full discussion with the administrative team, the Board of Education, and any individuals who may be affected. I can assure you that we don’t make reductions like this without talking to the individuals well in advance. In other words, if your position is going to be cut, you will know long before anyone else does. It’s not a guessing game or something we will surprise you with at the last minute.  If you’re worried, come and see me. I will speak with you honestly and frankly. I promise. And if things improve, we won’t have to make any additional cuts next year.

I am very grateful to our taxpayers who have supported education by passing budgets and to those who have led this district for years, including our business manager of 18 years and our dedicated BOE members, who have taken care to put this District in good stead for the bad times we are likely to face in the coming years.  Thank you.