Public Meeting Dates Set For Capital Projects
By Doug LaRocque
At its regular meeting held on Thursday, January 18 the Berlin Central School Board chose four dates for the promised public informational meetings on the 9.3 and 3.7 million dollar projects. The largest, which covers buildings and grounds, would have virtually no tax impact due to state aid and monies the district has in reserve. The second project that deals with upgrading sports facilities would add $170,000 to the tax levy each year, or about $30.48 on a full value property of $100,000. What this would mean to each town in the district per actual amount of assessment varies, as each town has a different equalization rate. The Board hopes to be able to tell each person in attendance at these meetings what their individual tax hike would be in real terms, as well as outlining the proposals and answering the public questions.
The first meeting is set for Monday, February 5 at the Petersburgh Fire House. The next will be Thursday, February 8 at the Junior/Senior High School in Berlin. The Grafton meeting will be held on Monday, February 15 at the VFW/Fire Hall on South Road and the final meeting at the Stephentown Fire Hall on Wednesday, February 28. All meetings will start at 7 pm. The Board also set Thursday, March 1 at 7 pm as the date and time for the public hearing. That too will be at the Junior/Senior High School.
A Slight Hike
in School Aid is Expected.
Board member Jeff Paine, who serves as the Board’s legislative liaison, says the looming New York State Budget deficit will have an impact on the amount of state aid the district receives this coming school year, but that preliminary figures contained in Governor Cuomo’s budget indicate Berlin is in line for about a 3.6% increase, or about 2.6 % after building aid is backed out. These numbers are far from final as the New York State Board of Regents is lobbying the State Legislature to increase the overall figure, something the lawmakers have traditionally done in the budget negotiations with the Governor. The new state budget is due by April 1 and shortly after the final amount of state aid to be distributed is announced. When all is said and done, Mr. Paine does not think it will go below the 3.6% number.
Mr. Paine also clarified the question, is the district responsible for the new 12 week paid family leave act. He informed Board members public institutions such as school districts are exempt.
Business Administrator Karen Capozzi told Board members the district has received $924,000 from the Smart Schools Bond Act, approved last November by voters statewide. She tells The Eastwick Press they have decided to break this down “into a number of small projects.” The first one they are undertaking involves upgrading the district’s Wi-Fi capabilities in all the district’s buildings, including the transportation facility. Once completed, they will move on to other projects.
The Board was informed by High School Principal Kathy Allain that Rachel Cahill will be taking over as the student representative to the Board. She also noted the annual faculty basketball game was another success and that Mountaineer Madness, postponed because of weather, has been rescheduled for Saturday, January 27, with a slightly modified slate of games. Elementary School Principal Tracy Kent spoke about the after school community outreach program that is working in conjunction with Grafton Lakes State Park, Berlin’s Sustainable Aqua Farm and Soul Fire Farm in Grafton. The Board also heard about a recent field trip by 50 students and chaperones to New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Board set Thursday, February 1 as the date for its next Round Table meeting at the Berlin Elementary School. The topic will be the beginning of discussions on next year’s proposed school budget that goes before district voters in May.