On Tuesday, May 19, Mohonasen residents will go to the polls to vote on a proposed $48 million budget for the 2015-16 school year. Under the proposal, spending for next school year would increase by 3.44 percent while keeping the tax levy increase at the district’s state-set limit or “cap” of 2.13 percent.
The proposal was approved by the Board of Education at its April 21 meeting. Download the PowerPoint presentation from the meeting here.
After five years of state aid reductions, fiscal difficulty and budget cuts, the district would add more than 11 positions — and maintain positions and stipends that were previously grant funded — if the budget is approved on May 19. Many of these additions would be the reinstatement of positions that were cut in recent years, including elementary teaching positions and special education support staff.
Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Spring said these additional positions would help reduce class sizes in grades K-5, which increased in recent years after a number of elementary teaching positions were eliminated. The district would also reinstate assistant coaching positions in the athletic program.
Other budget additions include: some salaries and stipends that were previously included in grants that expire at the end of this school year; positions necessary to meet academic program needs, such as a part-time technology teacher at the high school; and positions needed to meet state mandates for special education students and English language learners. See a complete list of proposed staffing changes below.
The state budget approved in April included a more than 7 percent overall state aid increase for the district. To receive the aid, state law requires that districts have a new state-approved teacher/principal evaluation plan this fall.
Also on May 19, residents will decide on a bus purchase proposition, and elect three members to the Mohonasen Board of Education.
“Through the difficulties of the past few years, we always said we were committed to maintaining our foundation so we had something to build on in the future. This budget is a first step in starting to rebuild on that foundation,” Mohonasen Board of Education President Dominic Cafarelli said.
Proposed staffing increases
If the proposed budget is approved on May 19, Mohonasen would add more than 11 new positions district wide and fund positions that were previously grant funded. This comes after more than 70 positions were cut in the last five years because of state aid reductions.
Some of the proposed new positions are those that were cut in recent years, such as elementary teaching positions and assistant coaching slots. Some, like the English as a new language position (formerly English as a second language), are needed to meet state mandate requirements or academic needs. Others, like the elementary assistant principal, have been funded through grants and now need to be folded into the general fund.
Proposed budget additions include:
- Four elementary teaching positions
- Two teacher assistant positions
- One English as a new language position
- One occupational/speech therapist position
- One elementary assistant principal position*
- One ELA academic administrator position
- 1.5 special education positions
- 0.5 technology teaching position
- 0.5 physical education position
- 0.2 social worker (making a part-time position full time)
- Assistant coaching positions
- Summer school administrator
- Stipends for teacher leaders*
*Previously grant funded
Replacement of school buses
On May 19, Mohonasen residents will be asked to vote on a proposition to purchase two full-size, 66-passenger buses and four, 34-passenger buses at a total cost of $460,000. Of this amount, 69.1 percent ($317,860) would be reimbursed through state aid, leaving the district responsible to pay for $142,140 or $28,428 a year for five years. The purchase of these vehicles would have no impact on next year’s budget, and since the district is always retiring debt, the new purchase would result in a minimal increase on overall debt levels. Mohonasen has been following a regular bus replacement schedule based on mileage, age of vehicles, repair history and condition.
Three to be elected to the board of education
Three of seven seats on Mohonasen’s Board of Education are up for election on May 19. Running for these seats are: current Board Vice President Stacy MacTurk, current members Tom Andriola and Gary Spadaro, and newcomers Dan Garrow, Patrick Ryan, Chad McFarland and Pamela Young. Watch the video below from the May 11 Budget Hearing and Meet the Candidates Night to learn more or read the candidate bios online.