Modest budget increases in 2024-25 for school spending face May 21 vote
Modest budget increases in 2024-25 for school spending face May 21 vote

Modest budget increases in 2024-25 for school spending face May 21 vote

A vote across New York State on Tuesday, May 21 will decide school district budgets, members of each district’s Board of Education and special propositions.

The elections will be held in school gyms and cafeterias from Noon until 9 p.m. with mail-in ballots available.

A newsletter mandated by New York State law will be mailed to every district resident on Thursday, May 9 presenting the candidates running for election on the school board and details on the district budget to be voted on May 21.

In the three school districts in eastern Dutchess County there are no seats on the seven-member school boards that are officially contested, although write-in candidates are permitted and have even won in past elections.

In Millbrook two incumbents — David Lavarnway and Chris Labelle — will seek new three year terms. In Pine Plains there are three vacancies all for three-year terms to be filled with two incumbents Joseph Kiernan, current Board Vice President, and Jean Stapf and one newcomer, former school librarian Claire Copley of Stanford.

Asked why she is running Copley said, “I am running for School Board because our systems of education are at risk and our children need us to protect their rights to a future full of learning and possibilities.”

In Webutuck one incumbent, Joanne Boyd, current Vice President, and one newcomer, Amanda Gallagher, will be seeking three-year terms. Speaking to The Millerton News Gallagher explained her reasons for running for the school board. “I have three children in the Webutuck School District. One is graduating this year, one is going into ninth grade and the youngest will be in second grade. I’m running for the school board because I want to be one of the forces to help kids have a better education. Webutuck is a good school district, but there’s always room for growth.”

Modest Budget Increases

Considering that the CPI (Consumer Price Index) for the last 12 months was 3.5%, all school budgets show modest increases in total expenditures from 1.7% in Millbrook to 4.2% in Webutuck. Spending per student ranges from a low of $38,704 in Webutuck to $46,936 in Pine Plains.

The accompanying chart compares the Webutuck, Millbrook and Pine Plains School District budgets for the 2024-2025 school year that voters will be asked to approve. Tax rates are estimated with final rates not available until 2024 assessment valuations are completed.

School budgets are broken down into three major spending categories. The program budget includes teachers’ salaries, special education, employee benefits and transportation, and administration and capital budgets, which include maintenance expenses, utilities, etc.

In Pine Plains 81% of the budget is expended on program expenses while in Millbrook it’s 77% and 85% in Webutuck. Administration, all the people not in the classroom, constitutes 9.4% of Pine Plains’ budget, 10.3% in Millbrook and only 6.9% in Webutuck.

In addition to the budget each school district will separately ask approval of various propositions.

In Pine Plains voters will be asked to approve the purchase of three new 65 passenger school buses at an estimated total cost of $462,000. Webutuck is looking to purchase two 20 passenger buses and to move ahead with installing air conditioning in all classrooms and cafeteria space.

Millbrook is requesting voter approval for a series of three bonds totaling $77.7 million to finance the cost of deferred maintenance for the schools’ physical plant and improve programing.

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