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March 18, 2015

Interim Superintendent John Yagielski to present 2015-16 budget on March 24

Interim Superintendent John Yagielski will present the 2015-16 budget - "built from scratch" - to the Board of Education at its meeting on March 24. The Board will begin its review of the document that evening.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Van Antwerp Middle School auditorium.

Yagielski revamped the district's budget development process this year, beginning with a series of "study sessions" on major budget areas that began in September and stretched into late January. These sessions were designed to build a base of knowledge about programs, services, and requirements well ahead of financial decisions.

Following the study sessions, Yagielski solicited budget priorities from Board members and district leaders, and listened closely at meetings with staff and community members throughout the year.
He said the spending plan that he will present on March 24 will be a complete, balanced budget that does not call for any cuts next year.

"Our primary goal this year has been to keep our unwavering focus on student learning, and the budget will be right in line with that goal," Yagielski said. "At the same time, we respect the investment that our taxpayers make in our schools and know that the long-term fiscal stability of the district is critical. The task with any budget is to balance all of these factors as carefully as we can."

The beginning of the Board's budget review process was pushed back from March 17 to the March 24 meeting due to a few areas of uncertainty beyond the district's control. One of these issues is the amount the district owes the state for a building aid overpayment, which was preliminarily calculated at $1.9 million. The district has submitted all of the necessary cost reports to have this adjusted, and the state's determination of a final amount - expected to be less - is pending.

Ongoing state budget negotiations provide more uncertainty. The Governor has proposed a total state school aid increase of $1.1 billion, contingent on enactment of a series of educational policy changes.

The Senate and Assembly have proposed a greater increase in state aid, to be separated from the Governor's policy proposals. The state budget deadline is April 1.

The Board of Education is expected to adopt a budget by April 21, ahead of the statewide community budget vote day of May 19 this year.

Following the district's revamped budget process, the budget itself will have a different look this year. The document will be divided into "budget packages" that outline the programs and services, requirements, and staffing and resources in each major area.

A summary of the budget presented to the Board on March 24 will be posted on the district's website the next day.