Letter to the Editor: Vote in the Onteora school election on May 20

Dear Onteora Community Members,

The Onteora Board of Education is pleased to announce that, for the third year in a row, our proposed annual budget will see no increase in the tax levy. There are no cuts in programs, but rather an increase in the number of High School electives, an additional course in the Middle School, the continuation of a summer Academic Intervention Services (AIS) program for Kindergarten-Grade 8, and some much-needed immediate repairs.

We are also pleased to present to voters a proposal for a Capital Reserve Project that would tackle major, long-term structural repairs and upgrades to our aging facilities. While the vast majority of the work is set to take place at the Middle School/High School, the project also calls for replacement of the Phoenicia Primary School building’s boiler with a dual oil/biomass (wood pellet) system. This will significantly reduce our fuel expenses and carbon footprint, using renewable, sustainable fuel produced here in New York, keeping more of our energy dollars local. 

The money for this project will come from the Capital Reserve Fund, the creation of which was approved by the voters in 2011; however, financing of the project itself from the reserve still requires voter approval on May 20. Please note that by adding additional money from the unappropriated fund balance, we will avoid paying interest, and will see these additional funds returned over time through State Aid. In short, the Capital Project requires no increase in taxes; we are merely seeking approval to spend the funds already held in reserve.

As with all school districts in New York State, there remain significant challenges ahead of us: the Common Core, Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), the continuation of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, and an increase in mandatory State testing are controversial issues that require constant attention. It is the Board’s intent to continue to focus on a quality, exciting, and inspiring education for our District’s children, and we are pleased that students at Onteora continue to perform so well on so many varied levels, both inside and outside of the daily classroom. As such, we ask you, the community, to vote on May 20 on the budget, the Capital Reserve Project, and the election of Board trustees at your town elementary school, from 2-9 PM. We thank you for your past support and look forward to continued success.

Thank you,

The Onteora CSD Board of Education