Board approves 1.36 percent tax hike

By on June 22, 2011

By: MICHAEL C. UPTON Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Warwick School Board Tuesday approved a $59,981,045 budget for the 2011-12 school year. The tax increase needed to balance the budget will equal .24 mils, or 1.36 percent, setting the millage rate at 17.9.

The final budget, passed with a 7-1 vote, would result in a tax increase of $41 on the average Warwick home with an assessed value of $170,000. Board member Jeff Conrad, attending via conference call, was the lone nay vote.

"This budget has been something we’ve talked about since last July, not something we come up with lightly, obviously. We talk about it every month at committee of the whole. We talk about it every month in finance and legal (committee meetings) and many of the other meetings as well. So, this is not something that has just come up out of the blue," Board President Dr. Timothy Quinn said. "Administration’s worked pretty hard on coming up with this budget, along with the finance and legal committee and everybody else. I just want to thank the administration for working very hard on this."

Finance and legal committee chair and board treasurer Darryl Miller echoed those sentiments.

"It’s something the administration has worked very hard at, at looking for dollars to save in the budget," Miller said. "We’ve had the opportunity to see (the budget) in its details. We’ve had several public meetings to go over this."

Comparing the new budget to previous years, the district passed a $59,326,363 budget for school year 2009-10 and a 2010-11 budget of over $61 million. In May of this year, the administration presented a preliminary budget in the amount of $60,202,119, calling for a .3 mil increase in property tax, or an increase of 1.7 percent, stating at that time further reductions could be made in the budget.

Board member Warren Newberry wanted to thank another portion of the Warwick community who helped reduce the budget this year, the teachers.

"I want to thank the people that chose to go for a pay freeze because I think a lot of people know that a pay freeze is a loss to you… I wanted to thank everyone who was willing to do that," Newberry said.

According to district documents, instruction expenses cost the district 54.88 cents of every dollar. Support staff, fixed charges and financing follow with a cost of 25.82, 17.86 and 16.84 cents on every dollar the district spends. Fixed charges, including retirement, social security, insurances and unemployment compensation, amount for $10,710,892 of the 2011-12 budget.

As for revenues, the budget calls for a total of $38,864,448 in local taxes ($32,024,536 in real estate taxes). The district expects to receive $16,726,495 from the state and $651,541 from the federal government. The district will dip into its fund balance and expects to use $3,738,561 of the reserve monies.

In other news, the board handled some post-school year personnel issues by accepting the resignations of Warwick High School guidance counselor Rachel Kiehl, music teacher and band director Rebecca Staznik, and Kissel Hill Elementary psychologist Amy Hensel. The board approved the hiring of Michelle Martin as a long-term German language substitute. She will fill in for David Hoffman, who is on sabbatical. In May, Wendy Andrews was promoted from a 50 percent educator to full-time status due to a heavy demand for German instruction and the loss of a German teacher.

"I would … like to express my thanks for allowing me to be here and to infiltrate the students with my love of German. I’m really passionate about the language and I’m really excited to share that passion with the students," Martin said.

Also in attendance Tuesday was newly hired high school English teacher Jonathan Olshan. Olshan replaces the retired Mary Hall

"I’d love to thank you for this opportunity. It is really an absolute joy to be teaching in a district whose educational values mirror my own so closely," Olshan said. More SCHOOL BOARD, page A14