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Ripley school budget proposal contains zero tax increase

April 28, 2016
By David Prenatt ( , Westfield Republican

RIPLEY - If approved by voters, Ripley Central School District residents will not see any increase in their school taxes in the coming year.

Ripley Board of Education members approved a tentative $9,217,446 spending plan at their regular meeting Thursday. The budget projects a 0 percent increase in the tax levy.

Finance committee member chairperson Ted Rickenbrode said the 2015-17 budget contained "no major changes" from the current years. "I would call it a static budget," he said.

Ripley business manager Louann Bahgat noted that the district's reserve funds were in good shape. In past years, Ripley used its fund balance to help decrease the tax rate, however to continue to do so would actually hurt the district in terms of state aid, she said.

"To use up our fund balances would not be good for us," Bahgat said. "The state has tied our hands.If we go dramatically under the tax cap, it hurts us."

Board President Robert Bentley said "the game has changed" in regard to the tax levy. "The long-term approach is to be static - not going up and not going down," he said.

District residents will have the opportunity to vote on the budget on May 17. Two seats on the board are also on the ballot. Board member Michael Boll is resigning and Paul McCutcheon will be seeking re-election.

The board also heard presentations by Pre-Kindergarten instructor Amber Trevelline and curriculum specialist Erin Wheeler regarding each of their programs.

Trevelline told board members about the progress of the district's new Pre-K program for three-year-olds. The program includes activities in music, art, library, math, dramatic play, occupational therapy and gym as well as breakfast and lunch.

"It's really old to see from September until now how they've grown," Treverlline said.

Treverllin said the parents of the children seemed very impressed with the results of the program. Kimberly Oakes, director of Technology and Special programs, agreed and said the feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive.

"It blows their mind to see their children actually walk into school independently, go to their own cubbyhole and hang up their coat on their own," Oakes said.

Wheeler spoke to the board about the second round of student-led conferences that took place in March. "It's very exciting to see the students speak to what they have learned," she said.

Wheeler said that, out of 153 conferences, parent participation was "significantly higher." "Our goal is 100 percent parent participation and we are very close to that," Wheeler said.

In another matter, Superintendent Dr. Lauren Ormsby said that that phase one of the capital project was "coming to a finish." The board approved four change orders dealing with gym doors, protection from wind damage, installing carbon dioxide detectors and control systems.



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