District in the black; no tax hike likely
District Chief Financial Officer Stacy Gober presented a tentative budget for 2019-20 May 6. It includes no increase in the tax millage for the first time in several years, and uses only $1.6 million from the general fund balance to make up a shortfall.
The board was to vote on the tentative final budget May 13, with a final budget adoption vote scheduled for June 17. Board member Dean Donaher commended those involved in the process for bringing in a zero-tax-increase budget without losing any programs and while “maintaining momentum” on strategic initiatives of achieving grade-level reading proficiency, delivering personalized learning and growth, and meeting students’ social and emotional needs.
The meeting opened with the awarding of the Steelworkers Archive Richard Check Memorial Steelworkers Legacy essay contest prizes to four middle school students. Emily Hojnoski, from Ms. Lisa Rodriguez’s class at East Hills, won first prize for her short story, “Thank you, Bethlehem Steel.” Kashmeire Pope, from Ms. Michele Anderson’s class at Northeast MS, took second place for her Bethlehem Steel: ABC Book, a picture book of engineering terms related to steel production. Jazmine Gibbons, also an East Hills student of Ms. Rodriguez, won third prize with her illustrated story, “Nothing Is Impossible.” Nadia Ali, a member of Ms. Sarah Hriniak’s class at Nitschmann MS, received an honorable mention for her poem, “A Tough Life of Toil.”
Steelworkers Archive board members Lester Clore, Jill Schennum, and Dennis Pearson were present, as well as family members of the late Richard Check, the longtime member of the Steelworkers Archives in whose honor the essay contest was renamed this year. The students received certificates of recognition, as well as prize money.
Facilities and operations officer Mark Stein gave an energy update and a facilities update. The board is considering locking in a lower natural gas rate for the next three years, which could result in substantial energy cost savings. Recent boiler replacements have also yielded savings through greater energy efficiency. Facilities upgrades scheduled for the summer include stadium painting and a boiler project at Clearview ES.
CTO Marie Bachman presented an update on the information services systems in use at BASD. Boardmaker Online (personalized learning), GoGuardian (internet filtering), STMath (middle school math assessment), and WIDA Testing (state testing of ESOL students) are new applications for the 2018-19 school year. Bachman also presented information on web traffic to the BASD site, which will be used during the site redevelopment by the Blackboard vendor recently selected by the district.