Residents to vote via absentee ballot on $76,083,837 proposed budget for 2020-21

Absentee ballots must be dropped off to the district’s clerk office by 5 p.m. June 9 or received by mail through June 16 by the district

Goshen Central School District residents will vote exclusively via absentee ballot on a $76,083,837 proposed budget for the 2020-21 school year. Absentee ballots must be dropped off to the district clerk’s office by 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, or received by mail through June 16 by the district. Learn more about voting via absentee ballot

The proposed budget, which carries a spending increase of $2,834,060 or 3.87%, will result in a tax levy increase of $1,835,633 or 3.52%, which is below the district’s legal limit as defined by New York’s tax levy cap legislation. A simple majority of voters (50% + 1) is needed to pass the budget.

What factors are affecting the proposed budget?

According to Superintendent Daniel Connor, financial challenges brought on by COVID-19 are affecting the proposed budget, including the “Pandemic Adjustment,” a state aid reduction for all public schools that totals $1.1 billion statewide. While federal stimulus offers relief this year, it remains to be seen if and how this will affect state funding in future years. Goshen’s Pandemic Adjustment for the upcoming school year is $258,935—and mid-year cuts to school aid are a possibility.

In order to offset the local tax levy, district officials decided to eliminate the 5 p.m. evening bus run next year, and five positions being vacated due to retirements will not be filled, including two elementary school teachers, two clerical positions and one teacher aide. In addition, in order to help balance the budget and avoid drastic cuts, the vast majority of Goshen Central School District employees have agreed to take a pay freeze.

“As educators, our goal is to provide a learning environment that challenges our students and drives them to succeed,” said Connor. “The proposed budget is driven by our students’ needs, and remains below the tax levy cap—even in the face of financial uncertainty.”

Other factors are affecting the budget next year, including new debt payments associated with the capital improvement project at Goshen High School, fluctuations to the district’s PILOTS (payment in lieu of taxes), and growth within the district’s special education student population.

What’s new in the 2020-21 proposed budget?

The proposed budget adds an in-school academic program for students with disabilities at Scotchtown Avenue Elementary School, which will provide long term cost savings since students will not have to attend programs at alternate locations.

In addition, the program will provide students with a structured learning environment, uniformity with their classmates, and continuity as they progress to Goshen Intermediate School, which also has an in-school program.

What else is on the ballot?

In addition to the proposed budget, residents will vote on a proposition to authorize the purchase of eight school buses and elect two members to the Board of Education:

Purchase eight school buses

District residents will vote to authorize the purchase of eight school buses: four 66-passenger school buses, at a maximum estimated cost of $111,250 each; three 30-passenger school buses, at a maximum estimated cost of $55,333 each; and one wheelchair accessible bus, at a maximum estimated cost of $70,000; for an aggregate maximum cost of $680,999.

If approved, approximately 60 percent of the $680,999 proposition would be covered by state aid. The cost to local taxpayers would be bonded over five years, with the first payment due during the 2021-22 school year – the first year that the district will begin receiving state aid reimbursement. There will be no effect on the 2020-21 tax levy.

Elect two members to the Board of Education

District residents will elect two members to the Board of Education for three-year terms to fill the seats of Board members Thomas Mullane and Allison Salte, whose terms expire at the end of the school year.

The candidates who receive the most votes will be appointed to these positions. Their terms will commence on July 1, 2020 and will expire on June 30, 2023.

The candidates are (listed in alphabetical order):

  • Thomas Mullane
  • Juan D. Paneto
  • Allison Salte

Board candidate statements will be available via the Goshen Independent newspaper.

What happens if the budget is defeated?

District to lose more than $1.8 million if budget is defeated

Under New York state law, if the school budget is defeated, the board of education typically has two options: put the same or a modified budget up for another vote on the third Tuesday in June, or immediately adopt a contingent budget. If residents defeat the proposed budget during a second vote, the board must adopt a contingent budget.

However, given the delay in this year’s initial vote to June 9, the date in law for a revote of June 16 would not be possible. The district is seeking further guidance on what options may be available in the event that a revote is necessary.

For Goshen, a contingent budget will cut approximately $1,840,653 from the proposed budget. District officials have considered what would be eliminated next year if the budget was defeated. Although a definite decision has not been made, this may include:

  • the elimination of five or more teacher positions,
  • the elimination of two or more teacher positions vacated through retirements,
  • reductions to 21st century learning hardware and software,
  • reductions to athletics programs and extracurricular activities,
  • and increased class sizes.

Additionally, under a contingent budget, the district would not be permitted to increase the tax levy in order to finance the capital improvement project, even though it was approved by voters. Reductions to the budget would be needed to fill that hole as well.

The district would also be subject to various limits and controls on how the
money within the contingent budget is spent, and would have to charge fees for public use of school buildings and grounds.