From the Superintendent of Schools
I am pleased to report that although the State budget for the 2021-2022 school year was bit late, our elected officials leveraged a generous amount of the Federal Stimulus money to increase state aid to public schools across the state and here in Cleveland Hill.
Uncertain of what our actual state aid would be, on March 24th we presented a projected budget gap of approximately 1.3M dollars. We were pleased to learn that our Foundation Aid was increased by $995,703 or 10.97%. This additional funding along with the use of our fund balance has allowed us to close this gap significantly. This additional money will also allow us to reduce what we had anticipated as a tax levy increase. Our allowable tax cap for the 2021-2022 school year is 3.22%. On Wednesday, April 21st we will be recommending a $34,045,172 budget to the Board with a tax levy increase of .90%. This budget would allow us to maintain all staffing and program levels that we had prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, through the federal stimulus packages, we learned that we will be eligible for approximately 1.2M dollars in federal grant money per year over the next four years. This money must be used to support health and safety initiatives as well as additional instructional programming to assist us in closing the gaps we are identifying in student learning and achievement. This will allow us to fund our expanded summer school and after school programs without cuts to current extra-curricular programming, instructional programing and staffing.
Though this money is a significant boost at a most challenging time, we must maintain our student-first, fiscally conservative approach to spending moving forward. About 10 years ago was the last time that the state used federal money like this. When the federal money ran out, New York State experienced years of budget shortfalls, and was forced to implement damaging cuts in aid to schools which resulted in deep staffing and program cuts in school districts across the state. We must keep that in mind as we move forward and keep our focus on the long-term financial stability of our district.
On behalf of the Board of Education, I want to thank you for your ongoing support of the Cleveland Hill School District as it serves as the foundation of all we do. A strong partnership and working relationship between a school district and community is vital. If at any time you are not satisfied with our efforts in any area, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Jon T. MacSwan