Superintendent Outlines Bemus Point Budget

Bemus Point School Superintendent Michael Mansfield presents the district’s initial budget outlook during a meeting Monday. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

BEMUS POINT — Michael Mansfield, Bemus Point Central School District superintendent, said the district is seeing “the best start that we’ve had since I’ve been here” regarding the early stages of preparing the school budget.

The 2019-20 school budget will increase 1.67 percent or $257,656 from the 2018-19 school budget based on current projections. The 2019-20 school budget totals $8,760,191, up from the 2018-19 school budget of $8,655,260.

The district’s state allowed tax cap sits at 2.94 percent this year. The mandated cap is set by the state and changes yearly based on school districts’ current debt services. The increase totals $257,745.

The district, as it stands now, is set to receive a $186,412 state aid increase included in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state budget proposal. Mansfield said that amount of state aid the district is set to receive typically increases when the state budget is finalized in April.

At a school board meeting Monday, Mansfield discussed a capital construction project the district is planning that will be voted on by the community during the budget vote in May. The project focuses primarily on improvements to outdated equipment at the elementary school.

The project will look to replace the roof and the water distribution piping of the 1953 wing of the elementary school. Additionally, the project will replace a water heater and remove the heater exchanger, replace existing boilers, upgrade air handling equipment and unit ventilators, replace a stand-by generator, replace gym and cafeteria doors, fix damaged tiles on the lobby ramp and expand the primary playground.

Mansfield said while the project isn’t as “exciting” as other projects in the past, he maintained the maintenance aspect of the plan is needed for the elementary school.

During his presentation, Mansfield again addressed the question of adjusting school start times based on sleep research. Mansfield has previously stated he wanted to look into different options for adjusting school start times. He announced the district will conduct its own review of the topic with the help of current high school students undergoing the district’s college journalism course. The journalism students will be conducting interviews with students and staff regarding the issue of how sleep impacts education and if changing start times will benefit students.

“Those students are helping me put together informational materials,” Mansfield said.

Mansfield said that even if the district does not eventually adjust school start times, he hopes the review will raise awareness on the importance of sleep and how it impacts students’ educational experience.

“I would feel remiss if we didn’t look at it,” Mansfield said.

In other news, the board approved the adoption of the Smart Schools Bond Act Capital Improvements Project that focuses primarily on the installing surveillance camera systems at the elementary school, high school and bus garage. Mansfield said the project will now need approval from the state Education Department before any further progress with the project is made.

“That could take a year,” he said.

During the meeting, the board tabled a vote on a district policy regarding students with head lice. After several board members raised concerns about the wording of the policy at the last board meeting, a presentation was given by school administrators regarding the district’s procedure on handling students with lice.

The board members who are still unsatisfied with the policy were directed to submit their critiques to the administration for further review. A vote on the policy will be postponed until the next meeting.