Tax Levy Approved, Freshman Seminar Eliminated
School portion of average homeowner's tax bill to increase $127.
The school portion of the average homeowner’s taxes will increase $127 after the Board of Education approved the district’s $144 million budget Thursday.
The tax levy, the portion of the budget funded by local taxes, is $127.3 million.
The $127 includes a $2 increase of the district’s debt service. The debt service is a mortgage payment for the construction of Anthony Wayne Middle School. The average Wayne home is assessed at $229,000.
The board voted to cut $2.5 million from the budget Monday in order to get the budget below a state-mandated 2 percent increase cap. The district will receive $3.8 million in state aid for this coming school year.
“We’re all taxpayers and we just want to provide the best education we can for our kids,” said board President Donald Pavlak Jr.
Approximately $83.6 million of the budget, 61 percent, will fund salaries. This is more than $300,000 more than the $83.3 million the district spent last year.
The board voted to keep 30 special education paraprofessionals in district. Officials originally budgeted to outsource the positions next year. The move would have saved the district $300,000. The board reversed its decision after several individuals spoke out against the move.
The board voted to move $250,000 from the benefits line item to not outsource the positions. An additional $25,000 will be moved from the general administration fund.
“This was probably, of all the things that were looked at, the hardest thing to cut,” said board President Donald Pavlak Jr. “But the board listens to the public and we were able to correct the decision.”
Sixty-four part-time playground aides will have 45 minutes cut from their schedules. The aids work at the district’s nine elementary schools.
Denise Vanhouten, president of the cafeteria playground aides, said she was not aware of the change and was “blindsided” by the decision.
“The teachers and the administrators rely on us to be their eyes and ears,” Vanhouten said. “We do more than just supervise students.”
Vanhouten said the aides inspect playground equipment and meet with guidance counselors and principals to discuss student behavior and playground incidents on a regular basis.
The district’s elementary outdoor environmental program was eliminated. Several individuals expressed their displeasure with the decision. Roger Hawkins founded the 40-year-old program.
“In the electronics-oriented world that we live in today it is less and less likely for a child to hear ‘go out and play’ or for a child to roam the woods and explore and discover,” Hawkins said. “Wayne’s outdoor program is the perfect vehicle for inspiring interest and understanding of the natural world.”
The Freshman Seminar program will be eliminated. Students will instead take half a year of finance and a half a year of study hall. Officials determined that the move will not reduce the number of credits, 135, high school need to graduate.
Each elementary school will have a full-time EPIS counselor. EPIS stands for Early Intervention and Prevention Specialist. They teach students social and life skills, often outside of the classroom in social settings. Currently, Ryerson Elementary School is the only elementary school to have a full-time counselor. The other eight schools share the remaining four counselors.
All athletic and extra-curricular programs, including Camp Warwick, will remain.
Officials proposed funding several capital improvements next year. The gymnasium floor at Ryerson will be replaced and a new chemistry lab will be constructed at Wayne Valley High School.