Proposed 2016-17 Budget Supports Quality Student Programs and Services, Stays Within NY State-Mandated Tax Levy Cap Limit; Community Members Declare Candidacy for Election to Three (3) Seats on the Board of Education
At a Special meeting on April 19, 2016, the Rhinebeck Board of Education adopted a proposed 2016-17 budget of $32,135,122. This proposed expenditure plan represents a budget-to-budget increase of 1.44% over the current year’s budget approved by the voters in May 2015. The proposed budget will increase the tax levy by 1.26% if approved by the District’s voters in the annual school budget vote and Board of Education member election on May 17, 2016. For the fifth year in a row, the proposed budget will result in a tax levy increase within the limit allowed by New York State’s tax levy cap legislation.
The BOE and administrative staff have developed next year’s proposed budget in an effort to balance expenditure increases with a dedication to the quality of education that the community expects and deserves. While the 2016-17 tax levy limit is the lowest since its legislative inception five years ago, and the New York State budget provides the Rhinebeck school district with the lowest State Aid increase in the region, the proposed 2016-17 budget maintains high-achieving schools, exemplary programs, and successful students, as determined by any measure.
School district leaders accomplished the challenging task of reducing $216,913 in requested budget expenditures across all schools and departments, while avoiding direct impact to programs and services for children. These reductions control the growth of spending, preclude the need to increase the use of fund balance to offset the tax levy, and maintain a low-growth tax levy as prescribed by the State’s tax levy cap formula, without the need to ask the District’s voters to consider a tax levy cap override at this time.
Budget planning continues to provide favorable student-teacher ratios in the District’s elementary, middle, and high schools. The proposed budget also sustains ongoing local curriculum development and professional training initiatives to reinforce rigorous academic standards for all students. It also maintains resources for the multi-year goal of updating the capacity for increased student and staff access to technology to enhance teaching and learning.
The District’s leadership continues to maintain a wide variety of opportunities for student engagement and success, both within and outside the classroom, in spite of the challenges of the current fiscal climate. The proposed 2016-17 budget maintains current programs, services, and facilities for the District’s elementary school, middle school, and high school children, as well as for the community-at-large. Local and regional programs at all grade levels will continue with the ongoing approval of the community. These include collaborations with Bard and Marist Colleges in the arts and the sciences, partnerships with area Arts-In-Education organizations such as the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Project and the Education Network for Teachers and Artists that enrich the curriculum, and locally-developed field trips, before- and after-school enrichment, extra-help and club activities, and a robust interscholastic athletic program.
The school district’s K-12 successes are evidenced by a number of outcomes. Rhinebeck High School has been recognized by US News and World Report as one of the nation’s “Best High Schools” again this year, and the top Dutchess County high school in that ranking. In addition, the Washington Post has named Rhinebeck High School as one of the nation’s “Most Challenging High Schools” for the fifth consecutive year. Also, better than 90% of Rhinebeck students graduate each year, and more than 90% of them indicate post-graduation plans that include two-year or four-year college attendance.
If approved by a majority of the voters on May 17th, this proposed budget will continue to provide high quality educational and extracurricular experiences for the community’s children while operating within the limits of the New York State tax levy cap.
Deirdre d’Albertis and Laura Schulkind, both incumbent members of the Board of Education who are completing their first term, and community member Steven Jenkins, have submitted duly executed petitions to the Clerk of the Board of Education, prior to the April 18, 2016 State deadline for Board of Education member petitions, for election to one of the three Board seats that are open this year, each for a three-year term.
All qualified, registered voters are encouraged to exercise their right and responsibility to participate in the school budget vote and Board of Education member election, which will be held in the Bulkeley Middle School cafeteria from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17th. Please feel free to contact your School Board members or administrators with any questions you might have. The Board of Education and the District's leaders thank you for your interest in, and your ongoing support of, the Rhinebeck schools.