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North Collins school budget hearing draws no response

NORTH COLLINS — No one spoke for or against the proposed budget for the North Collins Central School District. In fact, no one came to the May 13 meeting, except for the board itself.

The lack of response could be due to a much more extensive outreach on the budget held this year by the board and Interim Superintendent Joan Thomas. In all, nine presentations were made to groups and municipal bodies, off the school premises.

The 2014-15 budget calls for a spending plan of $15.1 million; Thomas broke down the revenue streams needed to fill that number.

The state will provide $7.1 million, which is up $480,000 from last year, but as Thomas pointed out, remains $28,000 below the level of funding provided to the district in 2008.

The district also estimates receiving $600,000 from sales tax revenue and has invested another $600,000 from its own reserves. The remaining money will need to be raised through the tax levy, which the board was able to keep under the New York state tax cap at 2.8 percent.

Thomas noted that no cuts to programming have been made, with the exception of the elimination of a part-time music instructor position. Thomas said that the current enrollment in the music program does not warrant a third teacher, but asked the board to reconsider, should enrollment numbers change over the summer.

The interim superintendent also said that restructuring of the business office and of the special education instruction program, provided large savings for this budget.

Crystal Cocca, district treasurer and senior accounts clerk, gave residents good news for their pocketbooks. In addition to an increased STAR exemption approved for this year, taxpayers stand to receive rebate checks from the state in the fall equal to the increase in their taxes, spanning last year.

Cocca said the rebates are possible because the district stayed under its cap. She cautioned, however, that only those who have applied for the STAR program are eligible. She further said that rises in assessments over the past year would not be eligible for additional rebates.

As she has done in all her presentations, Thomas highlighted the recent achievements celebrated by the district in just the past year, which included:

– A rank of 35 out of 96 districts by Business First, which was a jump from 41, last year.

– Four out of five stars in science, English and foreign languages, giving the district a 24th position among those same 97, and a 33rd ranking in math.

– Social studies teacher Thomas Bittner was named Fellow of the Year by the Transatlantic Outreach program for a second time, and was published in the organization’s newsletter.

– Biology teacher Lisa Brosnick, who garnered State Biology Teacher of the Year in 2008, was named a master teacher in the state by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

– Junior-Senior High School Principal Annie Metcalf was selected as New York state high school principal of the year.

– The Jr.-Sr. High School was named a Silver Medalist by the United States News and World Report with a ranking of 150 out of 1,806 high schools across the nation.

Thomas said she was both honored and humbled to be working at North Collins and said to the community they should be very proud of their school.

In other business, the board:

– Approved the permanent appointment of Teresa A. Gier as clerk typist and created a licensed practical nurse position.

– Accepted the resignation of Robyn Turner as girls junior varsity soccer coach for the 2014 fall season.

– Appointed Kevin Manchester as summer driver education teacher and set the charge for the course at $350.

– Awarded a bid of $8,031 from Contract Paper Group for Duplicating Paper.

– Appointed Lumsden and McCormick, LLP as external district auditor for a fee of $15,000 for the year.

– Awarded the refuse collection bid of Modern for the year in the amount of $6,969.10.

– Awarded a bid to seal, coat and stripe driveways and parking areas to Baugman Magic Seal Inc in the amount of $15,200.

– Approved the request of Ruth J. Davis for use of the high school band room for use from July 1 -July 31 for music instruction for current band students. Also approved was use of the high school auditorium on July 31 for a summer band concert.

– A request from David A. Burgstahler for use of the high school gym, to conduct a volleyball camp, from Aug. 11-Aug. 15 was approved.
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