JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown School Board Tuesday night unanimously approved a $90.7 million spending plan for next year that includes no tax increase.
The board reviewed the revised budget proposal presented by both school superintendent Bret Apthorpe and school Finance Director Lisa Almasi, who had to update their original budget numbers from last month after the final state aid runs were provided at the start of this month.
“I think of this budget as a community budget because it keeps us focused on addressing some of the big challenges we have as a school, but – going back to one of the budget goals of this board – being creative on how we find the resources to pull it off,” Apthorpe said during the presentation.
The district will see an 3.5 percent increase in foundation aid from the state compared to the current school year, although officials about a $1.7 million increase. Officials had hoped for at least a 4 percent increase, adding that ideally – the state should have given the district $6 million in aid if it actually properly followed the state aid formula.
Despite the district not receiving as much state aid as officials had wanted, Almasi said the district will still be able to move forward without any significant changes.
“We have no layoffs. We currently have an unfilled position that is eliminated from [this year’s] budget. We are reducing four FTEs due to retirement and we’re going to continue to look at the positions as they resign or retire and see if we need to replace all these positions,” Almasi noted.
To help balance the budget the district looked toward making minor “right-sizing” adjustments to overall class sizes while also utilizing money from its fund balance. Apthorpe said the district has also been able to maintain and even add additional programs due to support from outside the school system.
“We’re able to do this because of the great partners we’ve been able to create in the community. Community agencies and services who have the skills, the leadership, and the common commitment to partner with us so we can do the things that we need to do,” Apthorpe said.
Among the new initiatives that will be added next year is the Success Academy, which will be at the former Rogers schools and will work on assisting up to 75 students from the High School and Middle Schools who are in need of alternative, individualized education effort to improve their performance.
Prior to the vote, school board president Paul Abbott gave his support to the spending plan.
“I’m excited about it. I think there are a lot of good things in it. The success of what we’re able to present with a zero percent tax increase is due in large part to the partnerships that we established in the community, but also due to how fiscally responsible we’ve been over the years,” Abbott said.
The school budget hearing will take place on May 7 and the budget will go up for a public vote on May 21.