Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Budget Hearing

   On Monday-8-May the Bogota Board of Education held a Public Hearing  on its 2017-18  budget.  This was presented to the Board by Superintendent Dr. Vincent Varcadipane. Dr. Varcadipane gave a presentation explaining  the next school year budget.  He first explained that since State law forbids any public school system from having a budget deficit, this year's budget started anew. He talked about the first item considered was the debt service for the expansions Bixby and Steen school. He said that out of the 13 million dollar total from the 1998 work there is 4.2 million dollars left to be repaid. The final payment is projected for July of 2023.  He  then spoke of the $22.1 million needed for next year $14.4 million will be made up from school taxes which includes a 2% raise from the previous budget.  The 2% raise, in part was to offset the 0% from the 2016-17 and it is hope that next budget will be able to worked with only a 1% tax raise. Board Trustee Kathy Van Buren, who was unable to attend this hearing, wrote a letter which she asked to be read in to be put on the hearings record.  The letter stated her opposition to a 2% tax increase at this time. Her feeling is that the extra income from the higher taxes was not needed at this time. A number of Board Trustee disagreed with Ms Van Buren saying that, ideally, with proper planning and budgeting, a lower tax rate will be needed in the future. And the proposed tax rate  for 2017-18 will aid in keeping the Public School system functioning while continuing to provide the best education for the Students of Bogota. 
   Another part of Dr. Varcadipane presentation was the use of the approximately $3million in Capital Reserve to be use on current and soon to be started project. Dr. Varcadipane listed many of these projects. Starting with and updated Biology room, updating the boilers in all three building including regular maintenance to expand the life cycle of the boilers. Asbestos abatement in the boiler rooms, and the creation of the a additional activity space on the east side of the High School.  The new space is also a first step in the summer project of rebuilding Speary in the Summer of this year. Upgraded draining in the new space will remove any rain, and runoff water away from the school itself.  Along with a new Speary Gym an upgrade for the weight is planned in the Fall of 2017.  There is also the need to repair the lintels and windows at Bixby School. And purchase new sound systems at all three schools. In addition to the physical upgrades to the building there are a number of academic improvement being worked on. The first was a new Chorus program at the High School, and the start of a Video Production Class and the creation of  "Bogota Broadcast News". There will also be a creation of new Multiply Disabled Classes in both Steen and Bixby. This will be geared to provide the education that is needed by some local Student. Some of these services are now being provided out of district. The goal is to keep  those Bogota Students in a more familiar neighborhood environment, which will allow for more convenience for the Families, and reduce the added cost and stress of transportation to outside Bogota.  Along with the possibility of Bogota providing these service to other districts for a fee. 
     Dr. Varcadipane said that all of this project can be paid for with the current Capital Reserve, which will allow the district to pay for them without needed a bond issue, or adding to the debt service. he continued by estimating cost of these project would be almost $375,000 coming from  the Capital Reserve. 
   The board past the budget resolution by a 7-0 vote. Two Board Members were absent.  
   The next Bogota Board of Education will  take place on Thursday 11-May. This will be a regular meeting and work session. Action may will be taken at this meeting.  Also at this meeting the Bogota Teachers of the Year will be honoured.This will be held in the Bogota High  School  Cafeteria starting at 7:30p. This is open to the public. The Cafeteria is located on the second floor at 2 Henry Luthin Pl. Bogota, NJ

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