Webutuck school budget gets airing

AMENIA — The Board of Education of the North East (Webutuck) Central School District held a public hearing on the 2024-25 budget on Monday, May 6.

The hearing, held in the high school’s library, drew a small crowd that included five students who also were part of a presentation on a school program on climate and culture.

Supt. Raymond Castellani said that the budget, which calls for an increase $1,081,377, or 4.16% compared to last year, to $27,054,075, aims to provide a full plate of educational and extracurricular activities for students while maintaining a balance with affordability.

Noting that the District is required to stay at or below state tax levy threshholds, Castellani said: “We are below the tax levy level.”

Robert Farrier, business administrator for the District, presented a budget overview, explaining details related to the proposed tax levy (4.46%), which is lower than the maximum allowable levy of 6.02%.

Farrier also outlined revenue sources for the budget, including state aid, and he and Supt. Castellani noted that the budget includes additions to staff: two special education teachers, two K-6 teachers due to increased enrollment, one math teacher and one teaching assistant.

The tentative tax levy is $9.29 per $1,000 assessed valuation, which is one cent lower than the 2023-24 levy. Farrier explained that final assessments from the towns will be forthcoming in August.

But based on the tentative tax levy, annual school tax on a $200,000 assessed value would be $1,858, according to Farrier’s presentation.

Besides the budget approval, voters will decide on the purchase of two, 20-passenger buses and a pickup truck for the District at a cost of $222,238. They also will vote on a $4.5 million construction capital reserve fund approval to install air conditioning at Eugene Brooks Intermediate School and Webutuck High School.

There were no questions raised from the floor about the budget during the hearing. A vote on the budget will be held Tuesday, May 21.

In other business, the Board heard a presentation from teachers and students on School Climate and Culture. The goal of the program, instituted at elementary, middle and high school levels, is to increase student recognition and promote a positive atmosphere through activities, such as naming a student of the month and setting up a wellness day organization.

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