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ELDRED, NY — After months of significant interest—measured by the number of attendees at the monthly school board meetings—only a handful of attendees were on hand to hear the final touches applied to the Eldred school budget.
District treasurer Caleb Russell outlined some tweaks made to the prior budget presentation. These include managing the expectation of higher interest revenues,
deleting a previously added additional guidance counselor position and adding a special education teacher. He stated that he has budgeted less state aid than has been reported to be due to the district, citing past experience where expected aid has not actually been received.
Russell also noted that transportation costs were increased and informed the board that the district currently has a significant shortage of bus drivers. The shortage has resulted in pressing into service those in maintenance or other positions to fulfill the district’s responsibilities. Additionally, athletic events have been cancelled due to a lack of drivers. Several ideas were discussed including signing bonuses and encouraging athletic coaches to pursue certification as bus drivers. The problem is not unique to Eldred. Other districts and private transportation companies have also been plagued with a lack of available drivers.
The proposed budget increases taxes by 2.3%. The overall increase in spending is 2.06%, consistent with the proposal made in March. Russell stated that Eldred continues to enjoy one of the lowest tax rates in the county. He also said that the assessment of the Millenium Compressor Station is still not final until May 1, and recommended that a portion of the tax revenues that will result from this property should be set aside or reserved in the event the company successfully grieves the assessment.
Superintendent John Morgano announced that the Sullivan County School Board Association has recognized two district employees for distinguished service. Social studies teacher Joshua Glantz was named outstanding educator of the year. Glantz was lauded for his exceptional history of interacting with students during his 25 years with the district. Heather Bonnell, high school office
administrator, was named outstanding friend to education. Morgano praised Bonnell’s adeptness at multi-tasking and keeping the high school main office running smoothly, as well as her ability to maintain good relations with all of the students.
Morgano noted that state assessments (standardized testing) participation is up to 95% from 75% the prior year. He expressed pleasure that parents have recognized the value of having their students participate, as the test results are a measure of how both students and the district’s programs are doing.
He also noted that the district would like to hire a couple of 18 year olds to do outside work this summer.
The board approved the resignation of Vernera Jouraeva as junior-senior high school chemistry teacher effective June 30, and the hiring of Mary Ellen Sutherland to tutor chemistry students at a daily rate of $150.
During the public comment period, Kristin Smith asked if there was a protocol regarding discipline and accountability for students in the elementary school. Principal Scott Krebs stated that a policy is in place, but the response varies depending on the circumstances.