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Residents to consider $37.6 million spending plan

graphic image of ballot box
May 15, 2019 -- On Tuesday, May 21, Marcellus Central School District residents will vote on the district’s proposed $37,620,342 budget for the 2019-20 school year. The budget calls for a 5.96% increase in spending over 2018-19 and carries a 4.71% tax levy increase, which is the maximum allowed for the spending plan to pass with a simple majority.

The fiscal plan maintains existing programs and includes loan payments for the capital improvement project approved by voters in 2015. Those payments make up roughly half of the 4.7% increase in the levy.

Polls will be open 12-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, in Groeling Auditorium in Marcellus High School, 1 Mustang Hill, Marcellus.

When district officials began budget development earlier this year, they projected a budget gap of $640,899.

“We knew this year would be especially difficult, as aid from New York state is being funneled to poorer school districts,” Marcellus Business Administrator Anthony Sonnacchio said. “We were fortunate to be able to reduce personnel costs without affecting our instructional programs.”

The budget includes a reduction of one administrator, one elementary teacher (due to declining enrollment) and two teaching assistants, and continues to appropriate fund balance to offset any additional increase in the property tax levy.

School officials are keenly aware of the larger-than-normal increase in the budget and tax levy, a substantial portion of which stems from costs for renovations to Marcellus High School and K.C. Heffernan Elementary that voters approved in 2015. At that time, district leaders estimated the capital project would result in a $33 tax increase for a $100,000 home. That figure is now expected to be $30, due to use of conservative interest rate estimates for the initial projection.

Residents also will elect three members to the Board of Education and decide on a proposition to replace four school buses and one passenger van at a cost no greater than $425,395. A third proposition asks voters to consider a levy increase for the Marcellus Free Library.

“We are excited to be able to achieve some cost savings by right-sizing our staff to accurately reflect today’s student enrollment, especially in the face of a disappointing state aid allocation,” Superintendent Michelle L. Brantner said. “This means our amazing educational program remains intact for another cohort of Marcellus students.”

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