On Tuesday, May 15, residents will head to the polls to vote on a $48,849,113 proposed budget for the 2018-19 school year. This proposed budget presents an increase in spending of $2,936,104 (or 6.40 percent) over the current year’s budget. If approved, it would result in a 2.71 percent tax levy increase in the coming year – below the district’s maximum allowable tax levy limit as calculated under the state’s “tax cap” formula.
Maintaining financial stability
The proposed budget maintains all existing academic programs, establishes startup funds for the creation of an elementary after-school program, and creates positions for a K-8 music teacher; an elementary Academic Intervention Services (AIS) teacher; and a second School Resource Officer position.
“We feel fortunate to propose a plan that not only maintains the integrity of Liberty’s academic program, but also enhances it in several areas while remaining respectful of our community’s local tax burden,” Interim Superintendent of Schools Carol Napolitano said.
What’s behind the increase?
Rising contractual costs related to personnel, health insurance and debt service from the capital project that was approved in 2015 are the main reasons behind the proposed budget-to-budget increase for next year. Collective bargaining units negotiate multi-year contracts for salaries and benefits, while medical benefit costs are determined by the health care industry.
What will be different next year?
The proposed budget includes improvements that represent the district’s goal to increase student outcomes by providing a quality instructional foundation with extra enrichment and support to meet student needs. Nearly all the proposals below are driven by shifts in enrollment, retirements and administration.
Reconfiguration of the middle and high school:
The Liberty Board of Education voted to reconfigure the Liberty Middle/High School back into two separate schools with two separate principals.
Due to a spike in middle school enrollment and changes in special education needs, board members have said they feels that this adjustment would better support staff and students.
This adjustment would create an opportunity for each school to support and honor the different educational, social, emotional and disciplinary needs and values of its students.
Increased instructional technology (IT) support:
With an anticipated influx of nearly $2 million in technology hardware through the state’s Smart Schools initiative, the district has been restructuring its IT support to increase the amount of time spent toward instructional support and data privacy.
Additional funds would be used to equip every classroom with new Smart Boards, create an elementary and middle school MakerSpace and improve the district’s security system.
A closer look about the district’s technology advancements will be posted to the district website, www.libertyk12.org.
Renovation projects continue to gain momentum
The district will move forward with the athletic field project that was approved in October. Work is expected to begin in June.
Additional School Resource Officer
If the budget is approved, the district would welcome a second school resource officer (SRO) to patrol the three school buildings.
Also on the ballot
Residents will also vote on a no-cost referendum which will allow the district to spend the remaining balance of its Capital Reserve Fund. This balance, which will not exceed $1,650,000, will be used to pay down expenses from the Phase II Capital Project.
Just like a savings account, a capital reserve fund allows the district to set aside money for future construction projects and major purchases. The fund cannot be established without voter approval and the money cannot be spent without voter approval.
Residents will also elect three Liberty Board of Education members for the seats of Jennifer Desrochers, Karen Hook and Joyce Teed. All the seats are for 3-year terms.
Candidates, in order they will appear on the ballot, are as follows:
Peter Racette, of Liberty
Joyce Teed, of White Sulphur
Karen Hook, of Liberty.
Learn more at the budget hearing
The budget hearing will take place on Monday, May 7 at 7 p.m. in the Liberty High School Media Center.
Voter Qualifications: https://www.libertyk12.org/department-services/business-office/voter-qualifications/