School board asks for tax payer input on budget process

B y Jaime Thomas

The Granville School Board proposed a 2.5 percent tax increase at a board meeting Monday night, but that number is not set in stone.

Board of Education President John Shaw reminded everyone that if they hold at a zero percent increase this year, they’ll have to make up for it in the next few years. In a poll vote, the board unanimously decided to keep the number at the lower end of a potential spectrum.

“We are trying to do our best to control the tax levy, but due to revenue decreases, it is getting much harder,” said Cathy Somich, district business manager.

Keeping in line with that number, the board voted to raise tuition for Vermont students by 2.5 percent as well, from $8,000 to $8,200 per year. This is the first time tuition has been raised in two years.

The real vote to set this increase percentage in place for a tentative 2013-2014 budget will take place in April, weeks after a budget workshop on March 25 at 6 p.m., which the public is encouraged to attend.

“Tax payers who want to know why the budget is what it is, be here at 6 to give your input,” Shaw said.

Superintendent Mark Bessen said the same.

“That’s your time for input, and it’s a great time for discussion,” he said to the public in attendance.

Shaw wants taxpayers to participate in the process, because he thinks many don’t understand why the school needs funds.

“There are still people out there that think we’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes and we’re not really in the bind we’re in,” Shaw said.

Bessen said he recently had an opportunity, along with other school superintendents, to meet with legislators in Albany to discuss their concerns. He said the superintendents told such representatives as Stec and Little why they’re unhappy with Gov. Cuomo’s decisions.

“The governor has been touting a 4.4 percent increase in education; that’s basically a falsehood. We did better than most and we got 2.6 percent,” Bessen said, “He put the money back in the budget, but he didn’t actually give it out.”

He said education has less in the state budget now than it did four years ago, and people need to write their legislators to challenge this.

“We need the Governor to know there are kids that live north of the Tappan Zee Bridge,” Bessen said.

He also discussed with the board a proposition by local man that the Granville school district partner with China on advanced placement (AP) courses. The school would essentially act as an agent for the AP, and would hire teachers who would travel to China and teach there.

The school could potentially realize revenue from this program; however, the idea is still a gray area that needs to be explored further, Bessen said.

During the meeting, Athletic Director Steve Palmer announced that after polling the students, Gold won over Vegas Gold for future school uniforms.

“Sometimes we’ll still see a little mismatch, but down the line we’ll be more uniform and it’ll be more cost-effective,” he said.

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