Board of Ed votes on BOCES budget, reviews online learning

MILLBROOK — The Millbrook Central School District Board of Education (BOE) met on Tuesday, April 21, via Zoom to abide social distancing rules during the coronavirus pandemic. After voting to accept the consent agenda, a letter of resignation was accepted from Mary Triller, teacher’s aide, for purposes of retirement effective June 30, 2020. A salary adjustment was made for Leslie Anson for an additional two credits.

The board viewed a Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) budget presentation, which estimated the Dutchess County BOCES aid payable for the 2019-20 school year at $492,885. The total estimated to be paid in that period was $695,536; the surplus will be returned to the Millbrook district. 

The BOCES administration and capital billings for the Millbrook 2020-21 administration budget is $109,911; for the 2020-21 capital and rental budget, it’s $32,150. The total comes to $142,061, with the percentage of change at 2.55%, with no fund balance and a return of the surplus.

A presentation was given on distance learning taking place due to the COVID-19 crisis, on all school levels from kindergarten through 12th grade and covering studies including academics and art, as well as the library and music. All students have the necessary items needed to participate with remote schoolwork, according to the district. The presentation also addressed how work is graded and assessed, included several class websites and reported that things are going well.

A district budget update was given by Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Brian Fried, with the estimated budget total coming to $30,980,759. Due to the pandemic, it is not yet known if there will be cuts in state aid, though the governor said there could be cuts from 20% to as high as 50% in the worse case scenario. Also, the district budget vote and BOE elections are postponed until further notice. Additional cuts in aid could lead to cuts in staffing. The district has a cushion of $300,000, but the budget will have to be reassessed after state finances are determined for next year.

BOE President Perry Hartswick thanked everyone involved in the planning and execution of their new roles, their new methods of teaching, the meal program and especially all staff and board members for making the necessary new arrangements such a success. Switching to virtual teaching at this time was not easy, he said, but has been done successfully. He also lauded parents who have had to take on the role of teacher at home.

Safety measures have been taken to eliminate public gatherings in  play areas throughout the district, including taking down basketball nets.

The district donated and delivered face masks to Cardinal Hayes School and personal protective equipment (PPE) to Dutchess County emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and first responders, which the county picked up.

Due to some construction being considered an essential business by the state, work has continued at Alden Place Elementary School and the vestibule project is almost completed.

There has been a spike in requests for children’s counseling, which is being facilitated with teachers reaching out and putting students in touch with resources.

The Millbrook Educational Foundation (MEF) has given 299 gift cards worth $50 each for Marona’s Market to help students and their families buy food during these difficult times. The Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) is helping fundraise, with Gertrude Hawks boxes.

Usually the budget vote and BOE elections are held in May, but they have been postponed until at least June 1. Two candidates are running: incumbent Howard Shapiro is seeking another term and Chris Rosenbergen, past president of MEF, is looking to replace Thomas Lehmkuhl, who decided not to run again when his term ends.

On Tuesday, April 28, a special BOE Zoom meeting was held; BOCES board members were elected and the BOCES budget approved.

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