TURIN – Last Tuesday, the School Board of South Lewis Central School held a meeting where the main topic of discussion was the proposed 2022-2023 budget, presented by Superintendent Douglas Premo.
South Lewis’ current budget for the 2021-2022 school year is $28 million, of which $9.1 million is from taxes.
The proposed budget would be $28.54 million. Overall, the 2022-2023 budget is forecast to increase taxes by 1.95%. The budget must be approved by voters in May.
Changes to the budget would be due to “mini-renovations” as part of next year’s capital spending project, new staffing considerations and the opportunity to receive a grant from 21st Century Community Learning Centers. All programs and opportunities currently available to students would remain.
Investment projects are authorized by the Education Act and the NYSED Office of Facilities Planning. School districts can plan and implement these projects by informing voters in the budget newsletter. This particular project would cost $100,000 per year, which would be spent primarily on HVAC improvements. The air conditioning would be renovated in the health center, middle school and high school, while the heating would be renovated in the library.
Within the next three years, several South Lewis employees will be retiring, many of whom have worked for more than three decades and have developed a valuable level of expertise in their fields. With this in mind, South Lewis is looking for capable employees to fill their place. This includes maintenance workers, school safety officers (SSO), and especially teachers.
At the meeting last week, Premo mentioned that there is a worrying shortage of young people studying to become teachers. To counteract this, he has proposed permanent representation. A permanent replacement would work five days a week, representing multiple departments and gaining experience in all areas of the school. The goal would be to eventually hire these people as full-time teachers. The position is aimed at students pursuing a master’s degree.
Premo also introduced a position that would be similar to a district clerk. This person would need to have a wide range of skills and adaptability, not only in clerical and administrative work, but also in IT and public relations.
The salaries of these positions would require a slight increase in expenses.
If awarded the 21st Century Grant, South Lewis would receive $368,000 annually from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2027. This money would be used for transportation, summer school, robotics, and professional development. Another topic discussed was the creation of a capital reserve of $5 million. According to Premo, this would have no impact on the proposed budget and would be funded with any surplus over a period of about 10 years. A tax increase would not do this. This reserve would eventually balance local contributions to future improvement projects.
This idea is still being examined by the BOE. If adopted, electoral approval would be required to take effect.
For more information, these documents can be viewed under “BOE Agenda and Minutes” on the South Lewis website.