April 23, 2013
On Tuesday, May 21, Berne-Knox-Westerlo residents will vote on a $21,533,800 budget for the 2013-14 school year. The proposed budget represents a spending increase of 5.95% ($1,209,569) from the 2012-13 operating budget and carries no tax levy increase. The BKW Board of Education adopted the proposed spending plan at their meeting on April 22.
Voters will also decide on a bus proposition and elect three candidates for the school board. The two candidates with the highest amount of votes will fulfill a full three-year term, while the third candidate will fulfill the remainder of Maureen Sikule's term, which ends in June of 2014. Mrs. Sikule resigned from the school board effective at the end of April.
After receiving more aid from New York than was projected and implementing further cost-saving measures the district seeks to retain the current BKW program and staff while offering no tax impact to community members.
"The proposed budget allows the district to maintain funding for the current program and retain our current staff," said Superintendent Dr. Paul Dorward. "The only position we won't be retaining is a Special Education Aide position that is currently vacant. The student that the aide was assigned to has moved out of the district, so there is no need to fill that role."
BKW is working to offer the best possible educational program for all its students while minimizing the tax impact for community members. The proposed spending plan includes a few additions to the program and staff next year, including a .4 FTE librarian and .1 Mandarin Chinese teacher, both hired through BOCES and eligible for BOCES aid.
"We received more aid from the State than was expected, and by using some of our reserves and continuing to find cost-savings within the district, the increased cost of running our program will be absorbed and we can explore a few new options like piloting a program for Mandarin Chinese," said Dorward.
Polls will be open on May 21, from 9 a.m. to
9 p.m. at the BKW Secondary School Auditorium.
What reductions and additions are part of the 2013-14 budget?
Elementary School -
1.0 FTE positions total
Special Education Aid* - 1.0 FTE
Both Schools - .5 FTE positions total
BOCES Librarian - 0.4 FTE*
BOCES Mandarin Chinese Teacher - 0.1 FTE*
Mandarin Chinese Pilot Program
The district continues to look to the future while considering the academic program at BKW, and because of this BKW will be piloting a Mandarin Chinese program next year, which includes the addition of a .1 FTE Mandarin Chinese teacher (mentioned above.)
The district is currently staffed by one librarian that serves both the elementary and secondary schools. Additional library support would include the addition of a .4 FTE BOCES Librarian (mentioned above.)
What cost-saving measures has the district implemented?
Below are some of the initiatives the district has undertaken in the last four school years, as well as actions currently in the works, to maximize savings and efficiency.
Savings from 2009-13
• Reduced 20.7 FTE staff positions over the last
• Implemented a shared Transportation Supervisor with Schoharie
• Reduced transportation mileage by 119,000 miles
• Reduced 7 bus runs over the last 2 years
• Reduced overall bus fleet by 4 in 2012-13 with more reductions planned for next year
• Auctioned 5 retired buses receiving over double their trade-in value
• Use a health insurance administrator through the New York State Municipal Benefit Coalition
• District to enter a health insurance trust and new prescription drug plan
• Requested a new insurance price quote for property and buses
• Requested proposals for banking services (improved interest rates)
• Refinanced the district's current energy performance contract lease
Efforts undertaken annually
• Share purchase of electricity through NY School & Municipal Energy
• Purchase used textbooks/price other vendors
• Member of the Workers Compensation Trust with Schoharie Area Schools Trust
• Use state contracts for heating oil, transportation fuel and propane
• Save on utilities with the energy performance contract and solar panels
• Use Albany County contract pricing and BOCES for aid-able equipment purchases
• Use BOCES cooperative bidding -- includes items like copier toner and ink, custodial supplies, food services and school supplies