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PO BOX F | 4238 State Highway 8
New Berlin, NY 13411
P: 607.847.7500
F: 607.847.9194
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UV Budget and COVID-19 FAQ
What am I being asked to vote on?

District residents are being asked to vote on a $22.2 million school budget to cover operations during the 2020-21 school year, which begins July 1, 2020. They will also select three board of education members (see below). Use of reserves and cost-savings from retirements is allowing the district to offset a projected 5.2 percent reduction in state aid from the current school year. There are no losses of academic and extracurricular programming, including athletics. A new Introduction to Education program is planned for next year, but it will rely on current staff. There is also a $100,000 capital outlay project built into the budget. The project is eligible for state aid and would involve installing energy efficiency improvements. In addition, there is a proposition for the five-year lease for four school buses at a maximum estimated total annual cost not to exceed $90,000 for each of the five beginning in the 2020-2021 school year.

How is the vote being held?

Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order, all school budget votes and boards of education elections in New York State are to be held by absentee ballot. Absentee ballots were mailed directly registered voters of the Unadilla Valley School District on May 27. Please follow the instructions included with the ballot. 

Under the Governor’s Executive Order, districts are required to send (1) absentee ballot to every resident of the school district.  You are a qualified voter if you are a US Citizen, 18 years of age, and a resident of the district for at least 30 days.  If you meet this criteria but are not registered to vote, you must contact the county board of elections as soon as possible to register.   

If you do not receive an absentee ballot by Monday, June 1 and believe you should have, please contact Valerie L. Doliver in the district office at (607) 847-7500, ext. 1131.  

How will this budget affect my taxes, and is it under the tax cap?

Although it is often referred to as a “2 percent tax cap,” the formula that is used to calculate a school district’s tax levy limit takes into account a number of variables. Just as it’s possible for a district to have a negative tax levy limit (which would mean year-to-year reduction in the tax levy could be over the cap), it is also possible to have a tax levy limit that is well in excess of 2 percent. Because of capital project expenses and the way state aid is calculated, this year’s tax levy limit for Unadilla Valley is 8.9 percent, which means the district could have put out a budget that would raise the tax levy by up to 8.9 percent without having to get a supermajority vote. However, the Board of Education opted to put a proposed budget that has a 2.0 percent tax levy increase. This proposed budget would see a $87,638 change in the total amount of taxes that all taxpayers would pay throughout the entire school district and only would require a simple majority (50 percent plus one vote) to pass. This amount would be spread throughout all property owners based on each individual town’s tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property. The board of education will set final tax rates (the amount per $1,000 of assessed property value) in August. It’s impossible to say with certainty at this time what each town’s tax rate will be because the tax rates are determined by factors outside the school district’s control. These include assessments (as provided by towns) and equalization rates (as provided by the state Office of Real Property Tax Services).

Is there a Board of Education election?

Yes. Voters will select three Board of Education members from among four candidates. There are three incumbents running for re-election -  Daniel Naughton, Richard Potter and Vicky Gregory. Kimberly Corcoran is challenging the incumbents. Board of education members serve unpaid, three-year terms and are responsible for guiding policy and decision-making. 

If school has been closed, how has that impacted the district’s spending this year?

While the school building has been closed, instruction and student services have continued as directed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive orders. Teachers have continued classroom instruction remotely, which has also been supplanted by physical pick-up and return of work. The district has also continued to serve more than 1,200 breakfasts and lunches a day. 

While there have been some savings incurred due to the changes in the normal school day, these have been offset by COVID-19 specific related expenses. Where possible, the district has implemented some efficiency measures. For example, we have reduced bus runs to three days each week for food delivery and work pick-up and return. Multiple days of food are now included for each family in a delivery. In addition to remote learning, faculty and support staff are helping to prepare, pack and deliver meals. Because we still have as many as 50 staff members in the building each day, the district has also purchased equipment such as masks, thermometers, cleaning and sanitation supplies. In addition to remote learning, faculty and support staff are helping to prepare, pack and deliver meals.

There also new state-mandated requirements related to holding an absentee ballot-only school budget vote and board election on June 9. These requirements include printing ballots and envelopes, as well as several rounds of district-wide mailings.

How has state aid been impacted for the current year and how might it impact the district next year?

The governor has indicated that the state, whose fiscal year starts on April 1, could potentially have up to three mid-year cuts in state aid from now until the end of the current state fiscal year on March 31, 2021. The district has factored in a 5.2 percent reduction in state aid under the proposed school budget that would go into effect on July 1. There are also unanswered questions from the state about how certain district expenses that would normally receive state aid, such a transportation and feeding programs, would be impacted. The governor has ordered school districts to continue providing meals through the summer. 

What will the next school year look like?

It will be different. We have to anticipate additional costs because we don’t know. School districts, including Unadilla Valley, are preparing for three basic scenarios. These include continued remote learning with no students on site; a mix of remote learning and students receiving in-school instruction; a full return of students. It is expected that any return of students, whether it is limited or not, will require strict safety precautions and protocols. The state has required each school district to submit re-opening plans in July. 

An increased need for professional development will be required no matter which scenario or combination of scenarios UV may eventually experience in September. Our staff and faculty will need training on how to provide instruction – whether it is remote or in-person – in a manner that meets state mandates and federal guidelines. If students do return, we need to ensure we can operate safely. The health and wellness of our students, staff, families and the greater community is the most important factor for whatever decisions are made. A federal aid package is under negotiation in Washington, D.C. Educators in New York State are lobbying for assistance to school districts to be included in the aid package. 

What is summer programing going to look like?

The governor has declared that all summer programming must occur through remote learning. Our administrators, staff and faculty are working now to determine how that might look for our students. The district has included summer programming for this year in its proposed budget, which pertains to the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2020. We expect to have more information on summer programming in June.

What happens if the budget is defeated?

If the budget does not get approved by voters on June 9, the district would either adopt a contingent budget, or hold a revote. A contingent budget would involve cutting an additional $87,638 from the proposed budget. 
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