May 17 ballot to include board seats, district budget
Beacon school board member Jasmine Johnson resigned on April 1, leaving, for the third time in two years, a school board with a membership gap to fill.
Johnson did not announce a reason for leaving. She had been appointed to the nine-person board in September 2020 after the resignation of James Case-Leal, who wrote in a letter that he wanted the board to appoint two Black candidates — Johnson and John Galloway Jr., who was seated a month later.
State law required Galloway and Johnson, as appointees, to run last year to keep their board seats. The top three vote-getters in that election — Galloway, Johnson and Flora Stadler — won three-year terms, while the fourth-place finisher, Elissa Betterbid, completed the final year of the term of Michael Rutkoske, who had resigned earlier in 2020.
Because of the timing of Johnson’s resignation, this year there will again be four seats on the May 17 ballot. President Meredith Heuer has filed to run for another three-year term; Antony Tseng has indicated that he plans to do so.
Johnson’s term, which ends in 2024, will now be up for grabs, and Betterbid said on Wednesday (April 6) that she is not running for re-election, so that seat will also be open.
In addition, district voters will be asked to approve the school system’s 2022-23 budget.
District officials have proposed a $78.7 million budget, a 2.7 percent increase over last year, but state aid, which has not been finalized, could impact the numbers, Deputy Superintendent Ann Marie Quartironi told the school board on Monday (April 4).
The district is working with a placeholder figure of about $30.3 million from the state — close to what it received last year. However, “the governor’s proposal did have an increase in foundation aid and, looking at the Senate and Assembly projections, it looks like they are going to further increase state aid,” Quartironi said. The state budget is typically adopted by April 1 but has been delayed.
The state’s tax cap, combined with an additional allowance based on residential growth, means that the Beacon district can increase its tax levy by $1.7 million, or 3.87 percent. Last year’s levy was $42.6 million.
Quartironi said on Monday that she could not estimate the property tax impact on residents until the state numbers are finalized. The use of district reserves is expected to increase by $550,000, to $3 million, also depending on state funding.
If approved, the budget will provide a new full-time pre-K staff person, which would allow the district to serve 72 pre-K students with a full-day program at each of its four elementary schools. A district-wide full-day program started this year but, although it serves about the same number of students, is housed exclusively at Glenham Elementary.
The district would also add a business teacher, a special education teacher focused on math and an English teacher at Beacon High School, which will transition to a nine-period day in the fall.
The budget proposal includes paying for an additional social worker (who has already been hired) shared by the high school and Rombout Middle School; a world language teacher for Italian instruction; and, tentatively, a part-time music teacher for the elementary schools and Rombout.
Three one-year special assignment positions — a restorative practices support person at Beacon High School; an elementary/middle response-to-intervention coordinator, who will work with administrators to support teachers and students; and an elementary-level social/emotional coordinator — are being added and paid for with federal pandemic funding and will be re-evaluated after a year.
The May ballot will also include a $545,124 bus proposition that, if approved, would allow the district to buy three 72-passenger buses and three 20-passenger vans. The purchases would be financed over five years to coincide with state aid payments.
The school board will vote on the budget proposal during its April 21 meeting before putting the plan to voters.