Pine Plains school board begins budget talks
PINE PLAINS — The Pine Plains Board of Education (BOE) has started its annual grapple with the budget. Preliminary budget presentations dominated the meeting Wednesday, Feb. 15.Each facility in the district presented overall budget assumptions, building budgets and other non-personel items.Superintendent Linda Kaumeyer thanked everyone for their hard work.“We’re trying to begin this process as early as possible and look at every piece individually. This can be lengthy, and I do appreciate all the time and effort,” she said.Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Michael Goldbeck, along with representatives from each school, presented preliminary numbers to Kaumeyer and the board.Middle/high schoolStissing Mountain Middle/High School was the first facility to present its numbers.“The high school budget is fairly straightforward. Any increases you find are equipment related,” Goldbeck said.Kaumeyer asked representatives Tara Horst, high school principal, and John Traverse, middle school interim principal, if there were any specific needs that were of top priority.“The science department seems to have the most need,” said Horst.Kaumeyer added that most of the items were pretty routine.“I see items like toner and such. Everything seems pretty expected,” she said.Board member Bruce Kimball pointed out that there was a large number designated for the music theater program.“Can we look at why this is so high? This section is always one of the highest,” he said.Traverse explained that it’s the nature of the equipment that dictates the higher figure.“Musical instruments are expensive. If we’re repairing or replacing items, they do become costly,” he said.Horst agreed and added that the items the school has are for students who can’t afford to purchase their own instruments.Board member Heather Boucher was interested in the actual numbers from previous years.“Is there any way to see what is actually used each year? Are there any cuts that can be made looking at areas that maybe didn’t use up all their funds previously?” she asked.Goldbeck explained the budgets have been assessed in such a manner and that facilities are trying to budget for known and unknown expenses.“If we budget a certain amount and use less it’s not so much an issue as if we budget less than we need and have to ask for more the next year. Then we’re looking for an increase. We’re trying to meet needs now while also looking ahead,” he said.Kaumeyer added, “There’s nothing extraordinary on here. The high school seems pretty flat from one year to the next.”Elementary schoolsNext to present were Richard Azoff, principal of Seymour Smith Intermediate Learning Center, and James Glynn, principal of Cold Spring Early Learning Center.Goldbeck explained numbers for each facility were also relatively the same.“Remember, these are the numbers for equipment, which is anything over $500. So six new smart-boards at $1,200 each and that portion of funds is already gone,” he said.He also reminded the board that materials and supplies budget was halved two years ago.“As the technology increases the materials needed decreases. So we are saving there,” he said.Azoff added that many of the resources needed are consumable items.“A lot goes toward workbooks for students at this age. So that can eat up our whole text book budget,” he said.Kaumeyer also asked Glynn if there was anything for Cold Spring that took top priority.“I may not have that answer as a lot of our budget can be unforeseeable. For example, my printer just died, and I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that was going to happen last April,” he said.Kaumeyer understood items are not always known in advance and pointed out there were no significant proposed items.“No, there’s nothing huge. I just wanted to make you aware that the equipment budget is one we use on what is needed and that we can’t always foresee what that is going to be specifically,” he said.Grounds and facilitiesDirector of School Grounds and Facilities Richard McKibben said the maintenance and transportation budget is showing a preliminary increase of $46,000.Kaumeyer said she has already tried to reduce the proposed numbers.“I have looked at this and charged the department with figuring out how to decrease these numbers,” she said.Goldbeck said the increase in fuel prices is largely to blame for the overall increase.“Gas has gone up 11 cents in the past month. Times that by how many gallons we use and it’s a substantial number that we really have no control over,” he said.McKibben said there is also need for a new vehicle.“We’ve been looking at 2004 F-550 dump-truck for snow removal. They’re not cheap, and that’s without the plow and sanding equipment,” he said.Golbeck reminded the board the district is down a plow.Kaumeyer stressed that this is a work in progress and urged McKibben and Goldbeck to try and reduce the numbers as much as possible.TransportationEdmund Tannini, supervisor of transportation, presented the transportation budget next.“I know we’re not discussing personnel, but this budget does include the salaries. They are relatively flat. It’s hard to judge exactly because we don’t know how many hours the routes will actually take,” Goldbeck said.Kaumeyer said last year there was a need for new buses, which were voted down. She asked where the department stood this year.“The repair budget has skyrocketed because several of the buses are so old. We needed three small buses and two large buses last year. We still need three small buses this year and now we need three large ones as well. We will be asking the board for a proposition on those at a later date,” said Goldbeck.The transportation budget is also showing increases due to fuel prices.Just getting startedWith the end of the presentations Kaumeyer stressed that these numbers are preliminary.“With changes in legislation we’re going at the budget different this year. I encourage anyone who’s interested to come and take part in the next few meetings where we will be going over more numbers in detail,” she said.She also urged faculty to stop in and talk with her regarding specific needs they want to express.The second budget workshop will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m in the Stissing Mountain library conference room.