GENESEO — Members of the Geneseo community gathered in the Geneseo Central School Thomas Preston Media Center tonight for an open forum on strategic planning in the areas of finance, facility needs and transportation.
The topic was introduced by Board of Education President Stephen Miskell and Superintendent Tim Hayes.
“One of the goals of our Board of Education and one of our district goals for this year is to come up with some strategic plans that move us forward beyond the next budget cycle and beyond the next year,” said Hayes. “And that’s what’s been difficult in New York State over the past five, six years. It’s been so critical to find out what the state aid looks like and what our economy looks like, but at some juncture, we have to move beyond that and say ‘What are the things that we really need to prioritize and put emphasis on?’ and drive our budget toward that.”
Hayes presented a PowerPoint outlining the three topics and breaking them down financially. The PowerPoint will be available on Geneseocsd.org for the public to view.
Hayes said the challenges the school faces in terms of finance are decreasing state aid, a 2% cap on the property tax levy, and an increase in “fixed” employee benefits. Hayes showed a graph breaking down the school’s appropriations, with 51% going to instruction, 4% to transportation, 32% undistributed costs like healthcare benefits, and 13% going to general support.
In terms of revenue, real property taxes accounted for 56% of revenue; other revenue accounted for 8%, appropriated fund balance for 2%, and state aid for 34%, which comes out to about $4.9 million.
Hayes then went over the school’s various renovation projects between 2003 and 2013, which total around $23.8 million. These renovations include revamping 90% of the classrooms, new roofing and insulation which help cut back energy costs, improving the auditorium, gyms, pool, cafeteria, kitchen, chorus and band rooms, the media centers, roads, parking lot, and outdoor lights, which Hayes said also help save in energy costs.
In terms of transportation, Hayes said the bus garage is in need of renovation as it is too small. Over the years, buses have become larger, making them barely able to fit in the garage for maintenance. Hayes said the Board has discussed sharing a transportation supervisor and possibly maintenance with other schools to cut costs, and has talked about it with Livonia.
After the PowerPoint, attendees broke into three groups to discuss finance, facility needs and transportation improvements that could be implemented over a course of about five years.
In terms of finance, the groups thought the Board should try writing grants, consolidating costs, asking alumni for donations, looking at healthcare costs and putting a cap on rates, stabilizing reserves, and speaking up at Albany to raise awareness of rural schools’ needs.
In terms of facilities, the groups were concerned about the appearance and safety of the school’s back entrance and back parking lot and thought parking should be marked, expanded and lighted, and that security should be increased by making sure the door isn’t propped open. They also thought storage by the gyms should be expanded, the tunnel should be emptied of furniture and other things, a new gym should be created, a front-door buzzer system should be installed, a resource officer should be brought back, technology should be updated every few years, and that wireless internet should be installed throughout the school.
In terms of transportation, the groups thought sharing a supervisor and maintenance with another school or schools was a good idea, and that a new facility was also needed.
A second forum on formulating long-term plans for the curricular and extra-curricular programs will be held at the media center on Feb. 9 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.