Haldane Adopts $24M Budget

New superintendent to be named ‘very soon’

By Pamela Doan

The Haldane school board on April 17 approved a $24 million budget for 2018-19, clearing the way for voters to act on it May 15.

The board will hold a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1.

The board also has chosen a candidate to succeed Superintendent Diana Bowers, who retires on July 1 after four years with the district, and will announce its selection “very soon,” Board President Laura Hammond said on April 25.

The district budget, which includes spending of $24,070,392, is 2.35 percent higher than 2017-18 and will require a tax levy increase of 2.62 percent, the district said.

After crunching the numbers earlier this year, the district had projected a shortfall of $330,000, citing rising health insurance premiums. Bowers presented a plan that covered the deficit and $102,000 in additional spending. It recommends not replacing two full-time teachers’ aides who are retiring ($170,000), not replacing two other aides ($69,000), a reduction in special-education tuition costs ($154,000), reducing travel costs for professional development ($7,250) and spending less on heating oil ($10,000), among other cuts.

The district will increase the third grade from three classes to four and kindergarten from two classes to three. In addition, it will create two new positions,  a $1,600 arts coordinator and a $30,000 security guard;  enhance entrance security; create a visitor badge system; purchase a 30-passenger bus for $55,000, and allocate $47,000 for technology assistance and software.

Voter also will be asked to renew a reserve fund established in 2008 that contains up to $1 million for facility improvements and maintenance such as gym and field updates.

The May 15 vote also will fill two seats on the five-member school board. The Current will share policy positions from the five candidates in the May 4 issue and the PTA has scheduled a forum at the school for May 7.

In other business …

  • A progress report on the 10 goals of the district’s strategic plan, created in 2015, has been posted at haldaneschool.org. One of the major shifts was to introduce project-based learning and encourage collaboration among teachers.
  • Haldane students ranked first in Putnam County and eighth among the 600 districts north of Westchester County on SAT scores, according to high school Principal Julia Sniffen.
  • Students organizing a town hall forum on school safety and gun violence have invited state Assemblywoman Sandy Galef to participate.
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