On Tuesday, May 17, residents of the Central Valley School District will go to the polls to vote on the district’s proposed $45,094,500 budget for the 2016-17 school year. The proposal would decrease spending 1 percent or $455,500 less than the current year. This would result in a 1 percent tax levy decrease while maintaining academic and extracurricular programs. Despite reducing spending and lowering the tax levy, the proposal’s levy decrease is greater than the district’s tax levy limit and will require a supermajority of greater than 60 percent of voters for approval.
“New York’s school funding mechanism is broken when a district does everything correctly—it merges, controls spending, lowers taxes, and is still expected to seek a supermajority to approve its budget ,” said Business Official Ken Long.
Mr. Long said the board of education has steadfastly pursued the promises of the merger, long-term fiscal responsibility and improved student achievement.
“The financial challenges are great. The state’s funding formula is still stacked against poorer communities,” he said.
Buffalo’s Business First magazine recently published the median household income for all upstate school districts. Central Valley ranked 345 out of 451.
“Districts such as ours lack the local resources to adequately fund the programs students need to prepare them for their futures, whether in college or careers,” said Superintendent of Schools Rich Hughes.
“The state has an obligation to make sure a student in Herkimer County has the same chances for success as students from wealthier districts, especially those downstate.”
Dr. Hughes points to the way the state distributes school aid. Wealthy districts continue to receive aid that they use to enhance their already rich academic and extracurricular programs. Districts such as Central Valley use aid to provide students with the very basics.
“Despite the obstacles, our board remains committed to providing our students the brightest future we can support,” he said.
“Our community is equally committed. Our voters have repeatedly proven that they want the best for students. They dared to merge and continue to come to the polls to make that dream a reality.”