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CLCS Presents Proposed Budget

MAYVILLE — Chautauqua Lake residents will be heading to the polls Tuesday and deciding whether or not to endorse a proposed $23.6 million budget for the 2021-22 school year.

The proposed budget is 1.7% higher than the current school year, about $400,000 higher. The levy – the amount raised by local taxes – is $12,493,744, compared to $12,316,388 for this school year.

According to school officials, based on 2020 information from the state Comptroller’s office, the Chautauqua Lake Central School District has the lowest tax rate in Chautauqua County at $9.25 per $1,000 of assessed value. They said the highest in the county is $25.07 per $1,000 of assessed value but did not identify the school district during its budget presentation.

The proposed budget continues its partnership with the tuitioning of middle and high school students from Ripley at a cost of $8,291 per pupil, a 2% increase. Chautauqua Lake anticipates generating about $1.1 million through the agreement.

Chautauqua Lake is planning to continue a number of athletic partnerships including football, wrestling, track and field and girls swimming. The specific schools were not listed during the presentation. Maple Grove has discussed joining CLCS/Westfield/Brocton, although no final decisions have been made.

Other partnerships Chautauqua Lake has include a shared cafeteria manager, transportation supervisor, and public relations specialist. They also are part of a shared Central Business Office with Brocton, Barker, Silver Creek, Lakeshore, Pine Valley, Panama, and Dunkirk schools.

School officials said 55% of their budget comes from local taxes. State aid makes up 36%. Tuition fees total 5% and next year the school is proposing to use 4% from its fund balance, or $1,050,000.

Some highlights of the budget include:

¯ maintain staffing levels.

¯ maintain all instructional programming.

¯ continued extra curricular activities and interscholastic athletics.

¯ purchase of two full-size buses instead of three buses to keep up with bus rotation.

¯ fiscally responsible purchasing and planning for each budget code area working with task force and leadership team.

¯ strategic planning for use of federal aid funds.

Because of the uncertainty created by COVID-19, school officials said this budget has been uniquely challenging.

“This year’s proposed budget has been in the works since last September and has seen many changes along the way due to unpredictability related to state aid. Ultimately, the budget will see a modest increase from last year, with a focus on student programming, maintaining contractual needs, and future financial planning,” said Jackson Graham, school business executive.

Board President Amy Webb believes this budget is well balanced. “As Thunderbirds, we have a long-standing tradition of providing high-quality, instructionally diverse programs in a fiscally responsible manner to our CLCS students. Our choices for the budget have considered the community’s financial needs, students’ needs and the current and future effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget for the 2021-2022 school year represents a 1.44% tax levy increase, which is the lowest it has been in four years,” she said.

School Superintendent Dr. Josh Liddell thanked everyone for their effort in creating the proposed budget.

“I am very proud of the work put forth this past year by our teachers, board members and administrative team in developing a fiscally responsible budget that will enable us to continue to progress and improve as a district. The proposed budget is in alignment with our district goals and will allow us to build upon our multifaceted student programming options,” he said.

There are also three candidates running for two seats to serve on the school board. Mary Lee Talbot, Michael Ludwig and Webb are all seeking three-year terms.

Voting for Tuesday will take place at Chautauqua Lake Central School, 100 North Erie St., Mayville. Voting hours will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voter parking spaces will be reserved in the parking area during the hours of the vote.

Individuals who vote are asked to wear a mask and show proof of residency. Drivers licenses are preferred.

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