SPRINGVILLE – The next step in Springville-Griffith Institute’s proposed P-TECH program is a vote by the Board of Education at its March 20 meeting. If the board approves the proposal, the public will then vote on the proposal in May.
P-TECH is a three-way partnership between BOCES, Alfred State College and S-GI. Students would enroll in ninth grade and spend five or six years studying for their high school diploma and an associates degree from Alfred State in one of two majors. Proposed at S-GI are an electrical pathway or computer technology pathway.
Nick Humphrey of Campus Construction and Jeff Nunn, of Gordon W. Jones Architects, outlined a $14.7 million capital project that would transform the current District Office building into educational space for the program. The building will be student-ready August 2020, though the P-TECH program is slated to begin in the high school in September of this year. The capital project would be eligible for state aid, with only about $2 million not covered by aided funds.
“This is a unique partnership,” Superintendent Kimberly Moritz said. “The basic premise … is this is a Springville building … with a BOCES lease.”
With BOCES leasing the building, the local taxpayer share will be minimal. While Moritz has said there is no local cost, at the Tuesday meeting she said that isn’t the whole story. The 27 component BOCES districts – including S-GI – pay into BOCES services, which in this case would help cover the lease. Technically, though, that money goes back into the Springville district through the lease.
“I know I’ve said … there is no local cost to the taxpayer,” Moritz said. “However, we are one of the 27 districts who will be covering the payment. But if this building is in another district, we’d still be covering this cost. It’s in our community and that’s been important to me since the beginning.”
There is a possibility, Moritz said, the program is pulled at the last minute if the enrollment numbers are too low. To help fund the program, there needs to be 30 students enrolled. Students from the 26 other districts, as well as neighboring districts, are welcome to send students to the program. BOCES will not know the number of students until April.
“There is a remote possibility … we’d have to pull the project from the proposition,” Moritz said. “But it will not be from a lack of trying.”
Campaigning to prospective students has started, most recently with Springville families. Assuming the Board of Education approves the project, the district will continue informing the public on the program, both in Springville and the surrounding communities.
Following the presentation on P-TECH, Business Official Maureen Lee introduced a $38 million budget for the 2018-19 school year. The budget is an increase of $1,981,275 over last year, totaling $38,823,186. The budget includes increases in salaries and health insurances, and decreases in BOCES services and equipment.
“We had to make equipment reductions,” Lee said. “We did those where we could … to help balance the budget.”
The biggest decrease is in BOCES services, a $171,774 reduction from the 2017-18 budget. Lee explained that is a reflection of bringing back the Central Business Office back in district. There was also a reduction of $14,995 from business office salaries, which comes from an employee last year.
The proposed budget shows a $210,498 decrease in teachers’ salaries in kindergarten through third grade, but Lee noted that was a result of “truing up” budget lines and was reallocated to other lines. There are no proposed cuts in staff, she said.
The highest variance comes from special education services, with a $1,106,863 increase. That is reflected in a $161,769 increase in teacher salaries, $36,476 in teacher aide salaries and $909,418 in BOCES services.
“Special education is the most difficult [issue] with budget planning,” Moritz said. “We got six new … special education students after the start of the school year. It is absolutely our job … to educate these students … and we had to figure out how to cover that cost.”
Lee estimates $18,018,337 in state and federal aid, but reminded the board that number is subject to change after Governor Andrew Cuomo releases his budget. The district will also be transferring funds from the retirement reserve and reserve for bonded debt, as well as using $400,000 from the appropriated fund balance to balance the budget.
“I’m proud of this budget. I know it takes us to the top limit of the tax cap, but we had some obstacles,” Lee said. “We’re not cutting programs … because we found a better way to do it.”
The Springville-Griffith Institute Board of Education will next meet Tuesday, March 20 at 6:30 p.m. in the High School library and media center. Visit SpringvilleGI.org to view the entire budget presentation.