The Jamestown School Board approved the 2022-23 School District Budget at its meeting Tuesday night.
The $93,893,354 budget, which has no tax levy increase, now goes before voters for approval at the polls on Tuesday, May 17.
Superintendent Dr. Kevin Whitaker said there are three big themes in the budget with the first one being learning loss recovery, “Our kids have suffered a great harm over the course of the past two years with this Pandemic and all the things that came with it, both in academics, this is why we have things that addresses learning loss – additional teachers, AIS teachers, additional staff for students, social workers, counselors are also there.”
Whitaker said the addition of those staff also help with mental health support for students. The budget adds a total of 40 new student support staff.
The third theme of the budget, Whitaker said, is the ability to add those positions with no property tax increase, “Connected to that with our reserve funds, we are trying to maintain that tax impact reduction across the next five to ten years. So with those reserves, our aim is to smooth out any future dips in state aid so we don’t have to go to the taxpayers and increase taxes in order to get needed equipment or capital project repairs or anything in the future.”
A group of citizens led by Bishop Leecroft Clarke who had previously spoke before the school board on the need for a Community Navigator for the African-American community were in attendance Tuesday night.
Clarke said there were three emerging facts when studying data about demographics and education in Jamestown, “The first one is, 72% of our student population are from low-income families. It’s telling us something. The second thing is, the drop-out rate for Jamestown High School is twice that, in terms of percentage, double compared to New York State. And more notable, students of color have a higher drop out rate.”
He said the third fact is that students of color had a lower success rate for passing Regents exams. Clarke and the citizen group thanked the board for including that navigator position in budget.
A public hearing on the budget will be held at 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 10 at the Jamestown High School Auditorium.
The School Board also recognized former Jamestown School Superintendent Dr. Bret Apthorpe with the unveiling of his photograph in the Board of Education Board Room. Dr. Apthorpe retired from the district at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.