A Message From JPS Superintendent On The Proposed 2018-19 Budget
I recently received an email from a parent thanking Jamestown Public Schools for preparing his daughter so well for higher education at Syracuse University. She took advantage of so many college-level courses while attending Jamestown Schools that she entered Syracuse University as a junior academically, saving both time and money. This email didn’t surprise me; I know that this talented student is just one of many in our district who has benefited from the stellar academic and extracurricular programming the district offers to all of our students. The 2018-19 JPS Proposed Budget continues to safeguard these student programs. It’s important to make the community aware of this, as well as other important highlights in the proposed budget that will go to a public vote on May 15.
We believe that this year’s budget speaks to the values of our Jamestown community. This proposed budget includes a zero increase in the tax levy while introducing new and important fiscal tools to protect the future of student programming. The Board of Education worked very hard to develop a budget that preserves high-quality student programming and incorporates long-term financial planning so as to ensure a stable future for both our tax levy and student programming. We know that there is a direct relationship between the financial health of a district and its instructional health.
One of the fiscal tools for which we are seeking voter approval is through a proposition on the May 15 ballot to create a capital reserve fund. I call this a “community fund” because it legally requires voters to approve establishing the fund, with up to two million dollars, from unused budget funds. It also requires voters’ approval for any withdrawal from the fund, and it can only be used for capital work. Why is this so important? It’s important because Jamestown Schools is aided 98 percent for capital project work by New York state. During the next 10 years, this fund can be used for up to $100 million of repairs, maintenance and upgrades to our schools without borrowing, and without taxing Jamestown public, since the two million dollars offsets the local share. You are probably aware that Jamestown is highly dependent on state aid. Currently, 12 percent of the JPS budget goes to debt payment. If state aid to the district decreases, we are, of course, still required to pay off any debt. We must take action to lower this debt to protect student programming and maintain a stable tax rate. This proposition addresses important capital work that is needed in the district without adding to district debt.
The 2018-19 JPS proposed budget addresses a serious fiscal issue, but it also poises the district to bring three major academic initiatives to reality. First, is a daylong summer literacy program for students in kindergarten through fourth grades. Second, is re-opening Rogers Elementary as a Success Academy, providing year-round education while helping to prep students with life skills and academics. Third, is working with our local businesses to directly align a curriculum pathway for local employment upon graduation. All three of these bold and purposeful initiatives are carefully planned in partnership with our many community agencies, non-profit and charitable organizations, the faith community and municipal partners.
The City of Jamestown is enjoying a time of renewal and growth. Jamestown Public Schools is responding to this fresh, positive energy by presenting a budget to the voting community that focuses on the success of our students, while keeping taxes stable.
If you need more information on the 2018-19 Proposed Budget, you can find it at jamestownpublicschools.org under the “JPS 2018-19 Budget & School Board Elections Information” button on the home page, at each of our school’s main offices or at the Prendergast Library. We encourage registered voters to come out and vote on May 15th from noon to 9 p.m. at Lincoln Elementary School, Jefferson Middle School and Washington Middle School.