Dear District Residents:
I’d like to share with you a few pieces of news about our district.
Presently, we have three unused snow days remaining. It is a bit early to assume that Mother Nature doesn’t have one more round of poor weather coming our way. In the event that we have unused days at the end of April, our tentative plan is to close school for all students and staff on Friday, May 27. Please continue to check the school’s website and Facebook throughout the month.
Since mid-December, the Board of Education and administration have devoted a significant amount of time and thought to the 2016-2017 school budget. The goal is to develop a spending plan that meets the educational needs of the students, while accommodating the economic problems people in are community are facing.
The Board of Education’s current plan calls for the adoption of the 2016-2017 budget on April 11th. April 25th the budget document will be available on the website or mailed out followed by the annual budget meeting on May 3. This year’s vote will be Tuesday, May 17, from 12:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Please come out and vote. Our success as a district starts with strong community support. Your sacrifices on behalf of our young people are greatly appreciated and make a critical difference in the opportunities they will have in the coming year. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you need information or have any questions.
2016 Tax Cap
Last month I added an explanation of the unique situation we are in this year concerning the tax cap. If you didn’t have an opportunity to read it, I have attached it again this month. It appears below.
Superintendent of Schools
2016 Tax Cap
New York’s property tax cap law establishes a tax levy limit for each school district. The tax levy limit allows school districts to increase their property tax levy from one year to the next by two percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, based on a multi-step formula. School districts are then allowed to take certain exemptions that may boost their tax levy limits to more than two percent or the inflation rate.
If a school district’s proposed tax levy increase is within its limit, a simple majority (50 percent) of voters is needed for budget approval. If a school district’s proposed tax levy increase exceeds the tax levy limit, a supermajority of voters – 60 percent or more – would be required for budget passage.
With that as a backdrop, I would like to explain the situation we are in this year because of what we have done to save the district money. Mentioned in the paragraph above, districts are allowed exemptions to boost their tax levy. One of those exemptions is debt. The more debt payments you have relative to the year before, the higher your tax levy can be. I think everyone can agree that paying cash for something is a lot cheaper than taking out a loan and paying interest on it.
The problem with the tax cap is it encourages the district to increase debt in order to raise taxes. My hope is our community understands this is a flawed practice and they will support the plan of action we have taken to save the district money, and in the long run, save each taxpayer money.
Our plan of action is to go over the tax cap this year. In the 2015—2016 budget, we used $385,760 of fund balance to pay off the loans on three buses, which saved a great deal of money in interest payments. By doing this, our debt went down and so did our tax levy limit. The estimated tax levy limit for the 2016—2017 budget is -$264,926. That is -15.99 percent. For the district to stay under the tax levy limit, we would have to decrease taxes by 15.99 percent.
Decreasing taxes by 15.99 percent and having to make up for the $264,926 in lost revenue would require us to look at some major cuts in staffing and programs. While sustainable for a year or two, this would almost certainly lead to the demise of our school as we know it. Immediate changes to be considered would include: dramatic increases in class sizes in all grades by cutting staff, reductions in critical administrative and support staff positions and the elimination of athletics.
In summary, by doing the fiscally responsible thing by paying off debt we are asking you to support a budget with a modest tax increase that will require 60 percent supermajority to pass. you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me.
Thank you for your continued support of our district.
The Assistant Principal, Pamela L. Ratliff, Copenhagen Central School, P.O. Box 30, Copenhagen, NY 13626 (315-688-4411)is the Coordinator for the Dignity for All Students Act.
The Guidance Counselor, Copenhagen Central School, P.O. Box 30, Copenhagen, NY 13626 (315-688-2573) is the Alternate Coordinator for the Dignity for All Students Act.