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In the Loop with the Lewiston-Porter Board of Education: Another look at budget

Sat, May 5th 2018 07:05 am
By Jodee Riordan
Board of Education President
Welcome to May, Lewiston-Porter! The annual budget vote and Board of Education election is Tuesday, May 15, at the Community Resource Center. Polls are open 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.
This year's adopted $46,746,521 spending plan fulfills Lewiston-Porter's budget development goals by supporting the 2016-20 strategic plan; maintaining educational programs, K-12; providing a safe environment for students and staff; limiting spending and focusing on conservative, long-term fiscal planning. The budget is balanced and fair to district taxpayers.
Reviewing budget spending limits, it directly supports instructional programs and all educational support services for Lewiston-Porter students, and funds the care and upkeep of facilities. Every dollar (expense and revenue) is maximized; the goal is to always get the most bang for our buck.
The Board of Education recognizes that increases in expenses must be balanced with cuts in spending to provide fairness to district taxpayers and sustainability over time. This budget includes budgetary cuts in staff positions (most through attrition), building and departmental supply and contractual codes, and funding of capital outlay and retirement incentives. It reflects efficiency and a constant monitoring of all spending by the BOE that resulted in a budgetary savings for 2017-18. This money is being returned to district taxpayers as revenue to limit the increase in this year's tax levy to 2.99 percent - which remains below the allowable tax levy increase of 3.886 percent.
Last year, as a result of district efficiency (combined with the Lewiston-Porter budget staying below the tax cap) qualified Lew-Port households received a New York state property tax freeze rebate check, thereby offsetting the modest increase of last year's plan.
The 2018-19 budget plans for expenditures and emergencies alike through a strategic allocation of revenues and establishment of reserves. These reserves are gradually and strategically funded. With the fiscal stress that accompanied the gap elimination adjustment ending (GEA took over $11 million of state aid intended for Lewiston-Porter over five years to balance the state budget deficit), the district has slowly restored the programmatic losses and improved fiscal stability by gradually funding reserves in the past several years.
This year was a difficult budget year with unanticipated, dramatic increases in key areas (especially transportation and special education costs). Spending was strictly limited, reserves were strategically used and maintaining programs replaced restoration and expansion.
Controlled spending, modest tax levy increases and maximizing all state aid and revenue all provide sustainability.
The 2018-19 budget is fair to Lewiston-Porter taxpayers. The Board of Education is ever mindful of the impact of the budget on the Lewiston-Porter community and works hard to control spending and limit tax levy growth. The tax levy growth over 10 years (2008-09 through 2018-19) has been limited to an average rate of just 2 percent, year over year. Compared to overall increases in costs, coupled with the loss of aid and revenues over these years, it speaks to the district's strong fiscal conservatism and measured approach to investing in education.
A strong school district adds to the value of the community and the property values within the community. The investment in education is a sound financial investment, and Lewiston-Porter provides a strong return on your investment.
For additional information, the district will hold a budget hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 8, in the Intermediate Education Center auditorium; and the annual budget presentation and "Meet the Candidate Night" at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, in the high school library. In addition, the budget issue of The Link newsletter will be in residents' mailboxes this week. The Link includes a biography of each candidate, and full budget details.
On May 15, the Lancer Council and classes of 2019 and 2021 will host a Brickyard chicken dinner at the Community Resource Center from 3:30-7 p.m. Dinners are $12 and include a half smoked chicken, mac and cheese, and corn bread.
Dine-in, takeout! Walk-ins are welcome. For tickets, call the high school. Proceeds from the dinner go to support the annual post-prom party, Lew-Port's drug- and alcohol-free event following the senior prom on June 15.
Also Upcoming
•Thursday, May 10 - Intermediate Education Center musical "Jukebox Time Machine" at 7 p.m. in the IEC auditorium.
•Tuesday, May 15 - Middle school Girls on the Run bake sale and Chinese auction basket raffle at 6 p.m. in the middle school cafeteria.

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