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BKW analyzes community feedback and adopted state budget

Administration and Board of Education receive community feedback on budget matters

On Wednesday, March 19, the BKW district hosted an evening forum where Interim Superintendent Lonnie Palmer presented on the state of the BKW budget and the community offered feedback on the choices he presented. Click here to view more information about what was discussed. Click here to see community survey results about Palmer's budget presentations [PDF].

Palmer talked about options for the future of the district, including the recommendations given by the administration and the feedback already heard from district constituents. The attendees of the forum completed an activity designed to offer further feedback on potential additions and reductions to the district budget. Click here to see the results of the budget activity from the forum [PDF].

If you would like to offer feedback to the Board of Education or Budget Advisory committee about the 2014-15 school budget, please consider attending their meetings in the coming weeks. Click here to the see Board of Education schedule.

The Board of Education and Budget Advisory Committee has analyzed this feedback from students, teachers, parents and community members and used it to help align the future budget with the values and priorities of the community and guide them as they work to adopt a budget for the 2014-15 school year. Along with this feedback, during budget discussions the Board will consider the elements of the recently adopted New York state budget.

Changes Ahead for Schools in Adopted State Budget

Aid restored in the recently adopted state budget will lessen, but not end the financial challenges for public schools. In 2014-15, Berne-Knox-Westerlo will regain fifth of $1.18 million in state aid lost to the gap elimination adjustment. The New York state budget also includes funding to launch new education initiatives, a rebate program for eligible taxpayers and some changes related to student data and testing.

On March 31, the Senate and Assembly passed a 2014-15 budget that reduces the gap elimination adjustment, or GEA, to $1.0367 billion in state aid withheld from schools and that increases aid for everyday school operations by almost $251 million. Berne-Knox-Westerlo will see a $393,539 or 4.49% increase in state aid.

The district is now analyzing other aspects of the state budget that may impact the local education program:

  Universal, Full-day Pre-kindergarten Funds – The budget allocates $300 million to supplement universal, full-day pre-kindergarten programs in New York City and $40 million for such programs in the rest of the state. Berne-Knox-Westerlo currently offers pre-kindergarten, so it likely to benefit from this funding next year, up to as much as $67,761.

Smart Schools Bond Referendum – The state will hold a public vote in November for permission to borrow $2 billion for school technology infrastructure, broadband or wireless connectivity, pre-kindergarten instructional space, and/or replacement of classroom trailers. Berne-Knox-Westerlo would receive $883,468 from the bond.

Student Testing Changes – The budget includes several provisions related to state assessments:

o Individual student scores on grades 3-8 state assessments in English language arts and math:

• Can be used in required state and federal reporting.

• Cannot be placed on a student’s official transcript or in the student’s permanent record.

• Cannot be the sole basis for student promotion and placement decisions.

o The commissioner of education must create new regulations that:

• Set restrictions on the amount of time spent on testing and the number of field tests, among other things.

• Allow alternative assessment options for students with disabilities and English language learners.

Student Data Privacy Changes – Following are some of the budget provisions related to student data privacy:

o While parents cannot opt out of having students’ data shared with the state, the transfer of such data to InBloom or any similar provider is prohibited.

o Districts can opt out of using state data dashboards.

o The state will create a chief privacy officer position and have tougher penalties for unauthorized disclosure of data.

 

Visit Education Speaks to learn more about the 2014-15 state budget.

Visit the BKW budget webpage for more information about the impact of the state budget on the 2014-15 school budget proposal as it becomes available.