2016-17 School Budget Planning Process Challenged by Increased Education Costs, Minimal State Tax Levy Cap and Preliminary State Aid Figures

The Rhinebeck Central School District Board of Education and administrators, along with those in every other school district in New York State, are engaged in the process of developing a budget for the 2016-17 school year. This activity is occurring in the shadow of New York State’s tax levy cap, commonly referred to by State officials as the “2% tax cap.” At 0.12%, the tax levy cap is the lowest since the initiation of the State Tax Levy Cap five years ago and will have a significant impact on the choices to be made in building next year’s school budget in today’s fiscal climate.

As occurred last year, our District is looking at a very challenging process of budgetary decision-making to meet the educational needs of all our students. At this point in the budget development process, the District is facing a significant budget gap that we anticipate will require additional reductions to the initial budget. Also, while the Board is focused on developing a budget that drives a tax levy increase within the State tax levy cap, this may not be possible under the current circumstances without much deeper reductions. A fair and reasonable State budget is needed at this time to support the needs of all public school students, including those in Rhinebeck.

The Board of Education and the District’s administrators continue their commitment to balancing the varied educational needs of the community’s children with the current fiscal realities that constrain the ability of local taxpayers to provide financial support for those needs.  It is important for all Rhinebeck Central School District residents to know and understand the factors that are in play this year as the budgeting process for the 2016-17 school year moves forward.

The Board urges citizens to become involved regarding the 2016-17 school district budget under development and better educated about the process involved in developing the budget and the factors that should and must be taken into consideration by:

  • following the updated budget information posted on this web site over the next few months;
  • attending meetings of the Board of Education to access available information and provide feedback to the Board;
  • contacting your elected State officials with your thoughts about:- a State tax levy cap that continues to limit the ability of local communities to fund educational programs and services without relief from, and in some cases increasing, often-burdensome unfunded State mandates;

    – the restoration of education funding, known as the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA)  promised to school districts, including Rhinebeck, that is currently being withheld from many districts in spite of a documented State budget surplus;

    – the full funding of Foundation Aid promised to all school districts, including Rhinebeck and

    – a State budget that continues to shift the responsibility for funding public schools to local communities.

  • taking advantage of all opportunities that the BOE will make available to access budget information, and providing input and feedback to shape the contours of the 2016-17 school budget..

The public is invited to attend the following Regular and Special Board of Education meetings related to 2016-17 school budget:

  • March 12th – Annual Budget Workshop, 9:00 am, BMS/RHS library
  • March 15th, March 29th, April 12th – Regular BOE meetings 7:30 pm, BMS/RHS Library
  • April 19th  Budget Hearing & BOE Budget Adoption (tentative), 7:00 pm, BMS/RHS Library
  • May 10th – State-required Budget Hearing, 7:00 pm, BMS/RHS Library
  • May 17th – Annual Budget and Board of Education vote – 2:00 to 9:00 pm, BMS Cafeteria

Finally, let us know what you think!  Send comments, suggestions or questions on the 2016-17 school district budget to BudgetInfo@rhinebeckcsd.org, a special e-mail address established to solicit and respond to your budget input. In addition, your Board of Education members always appreciate hearing your thoughts and ideas on this topic, or any other. Individual BOE contact information is available on the District website at http://www.rhinebeckcsd.org/pagecontent.php?id=11.

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