Annual School Budget & Board Member Vote Set for Tuesday, May 15, 2-9 pm, at    

Bulkeley Middle School Cafeteria; Proposed 2018-19 Budget Stays Within State’s Tax Levy Cap Limit While Preserving Programs and Services

At a Special meeting on April 17, 2018, the Rhinebeck Board of Education adopted a proposed budget of $33,920,159 for the 2018-19 school year. The proposed expenditure plan represents a budget-to-budget increase of 2.41% over the current year’s budget.  The State-required Budget Hearing will be held at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, May 8, 2018.  Voting on the 2018-19 budget, as well as to fill two (2) three-year vacancies on the Board of Education will be held in the Bulkeley Middle School cafeteria from 2:00 to 9:00 pm onTuesday, May 15, 2018 for registered school district voters. A digital copy of the 2018-19 District Budget Brochure, “The Rhinebeck Resource,” can be reached by clicking on the following link:  The Rhinebeck Resource – 2018-19 Budget Brochure .

The proposed 2017-18 budget will increase the tax levy by 3.23%, an increase that is within the parameters of the of New York State’s tax levy cap legislation. According to the State’s tax levy cap legislation, a simple majority (50% + 1) is required for passage.

Objectives – The Board of Education and the administrative staff have developed the proposed budget in an effort to balance anticipated expenditure increases with a dedication to maintaining the quality of education that the community expects and deserves for its children and its future. Passage of the proposed 2018-19 school budget will benefit the District by:

  • improving the District’s financial position to remain within the tax levy cap limit in 2018-19 and in future years;
  • maintaining staffing levels that support current programs/services for students; and
  • continuing to provide programs and services for which Rhinebeck schools are known both regionally and nationally. 

Challenges – As all New York State school districts enter the seventh year of the New York State tax levy cap legislation, reductions due to declining enrollment have provided our school district with some fiscal relief, along with a favorable increase in State Foundation Aid for 2018-19. In addition, conservative but carefully considered fiscal planning, including a commitment to reducing staffing whenever possible by not replacing staff members who leave the District as a result of retirements or for other reasons, and other budgeting economies, will allow the school district to sustain the same level of nationally recognized educational services that residents have come to expect for their children and their community.

Nevertheless, the Rhinebeck Central School District is considered by New York State as a “low needs/high wealth” school district, by applying a State formula based upon personal incomes and property values. As a result, State Foundation Aid to our school district has not kept pace, over many years, with expenditures such as rising health insurance costs, mandated special education services, employee retirement system support, and other financial obligations, which are necessary but largely beyond the school district’s control. However, in spite of these challenges, the proposed 2018-19 budget will continue to maintain high-achieving schools, exemplary programs, and successful students, as determined by any measure.

Our Schools – Budget planning for 2018-19 continues to provide:

  • reasonable student-teacher ratios in the District’s elementary, middle, and high school;
  • ongoing local curriculum development and professional training initiatives to reinforce rigorous academic standards for all students; and
  • resources for increased student and staff access to technology to enhance teaching and learning.

The Board of Education is deeply appreciative of the community engagement in this year’s budget development process, as evidenced by staff, parent, and community member attendance and participation at Board Coffees and Board meetings around the discussion of topics related to the development of the 2018-19 proposed budget.

The District continues to maintain a wide variety of opportunities for student engagement and success, both within and outside the classroom, through careful assessment of how these programs support student learning. Local and regional programs at all grade levels will continue with the ongoing approval of the community. These include:

  • collaborations with Bard and Marist Colleges in the arts and the sciences;
  • partnerships with area Arts-In-Education organizations such as the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Project and the Education Network for Teachers and Artists that enrich the curriculum;
  • locally-developed field trips;
  • before-and after-school enrichment, extra-help and club activities; and
  • a robust interscholastic athletic program.

The Board also acknowledges the ongoing support of community groups, including the Rhinebeck PTSO, the Rhinebeck Science Foundation, and CultureConnect, whose work helps to enrich the educational experiences of Rhinebeck students in so many diverse and meaningful ways.

The school district’s cumulative K-12 successes are evidenced by a number of outcomes:

  • over 90% of Rhinebeck students graduate each year, and more than 90% of those diploma recipients indicate post-graduation plans that include two-year or four-year college attendance;
  • Rhinebeck High School again this year has been recognized by US News and World Report as one of the “Best High Schools” in New York State and in the United States;
  • The Washington Post has named Rhinebeck High School as one of the nation’s “Most Challenging High Schools” for several consecutive years; and
  • Rhinebeck High School has been designated as a “Reward” school, one of only 155 high-achieving and high progress schools in New York by the New York State Education Department in 2017-18 in recognition of high academic achievement.

The Future – Particularly in light of declining enrollment, the Board has made long-range planning its single most important multi-year priority. An ad hoc committee of the Board began its work this year, and a community advisory committee will be populated with interested volunteers from the community and will be convened shortly.

Board of Education Openings – Regarding Board of Education member representation, incumbents Mark Fleischhauer and Diane Lyons, and community member David Lavalle have submitted duly executed petitions for election to the two (2) Board seats that are open this year, each for a three-year term. These choices will be included on the May 15thballot, along with the 2018-19 school budget proposal.

The Vote – If approved by a simple majority (50% + 1) of the voters on May 15th, this proposed budget will continue to provide high quality educational and extracurricular experiences for the community’s children. If the vote is not approved, the Board has the option, by law, either to submit a reduced budget or to submit the same budget for a second vote. The failure of a second budget vote to pass will result in a contingency budget which will drive a .31% budget decrease and a 0% tax levy increase. In order to operate within the limits of a contingency budget, staff reductions, along with related reductions in programs, and/or services, would inevitably be required.

All qualified, registered voters are encouraged to exercise their right and responsibility to participate in the school budget vote and Board of Education member election, which will be held in the Bulkeley Middle School cafeteria from 2:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 15th. Please feel free to contact your School Board members or District administrators with any questions you might have. The Board of Education and District leaders thank you for your interest in, and your ongoing support of, the Rhinebeck schools.

Deirdre d’Albertis, President   876-0411  Deirdre.dalbertis@rhinebeckcsd.org

Mark Fleischhauer, Vice-President   876-5311  Mark.Fleischhauer@rhinebeckcsd.org

Diane Lyons, Trustee   266-8861    Diane.Lyons@rhinebeckcsd.org

Laura Schulkind, Trustee   876-8253   Laura.Schulkind@rhinebeckcsd.org

Stephen Jenkins, Trustee   876-0758   Stephen.Jenkins@rhinebeckcsd.org

Elizabeth Raum, Trustee   663-4787   Elizabeth.Raum@rhinebeckcsd.org

Jaclyn Savolainen, Trustee   876-7334   Jaclyn.Savolainen@rhinebeckcsd.org