Frequently Asked Questions
These questions are taken from comments at our public forums, board of education meetings, and questions submitted to our website. The questions are taken directly from the public and the Board of Education.
Please explain the impact of the tax levy law on our school district budget.
The tax levy limit law dictates the amount of taxes that can be collected by KCSD. The Board can choose to attempt to override the tax levy limit by asking for
a “super majority”- 60% approval plus one - from voters. For a detailed presented on the Tax levy limit law, please review the informational brochure, or watch a video of a Tax Levy Limit presentation from February 2012.
Please explain what impact the use of reserves will have on future budgets.
The use of reserves artificially increases the districts revenues. This requires the district to then cut expenses or increase revenue by the same amount the
next year – eventually the reserves will run out.
Explain “educational bankruptcy”. Through the depletion of reserves and the inability to increase revenues above the tax levy limit the district will not be able to provide a sound basic education to the students of the Kingston City School District.
What is the breakdown of the savings gained through this redistricting plan?
30 FTE teachers - $3,000,000
4 Teacher Assistants - $200,000
3 Administrators - $450,000
12 FS/Lunch Monitors - $360,000
3 Clerical - $150,000
Buildings (cost of operation) - $600,000
Total - $4,760,000 X 5 = $23,800,000
How much of the savings will be re-invested and how much will be used to fill the budget gap? Ultimately this is a Board decision. The estimated budget gap for 2012-2013 is $6,214,560.
If you were to combine Myer and Edson with the Grade 5 students, why not combine them without the Grade 5 students? This seems to make the most sense geographically. We have to relocate a significant portion of the English Language Learner population from the combined Edson-Myer schools. Proximity of those families to Myer was a consideration in making this consolidation – we can’t fit anything into Edson without moving the English Language Learner students.
What are the plans for special education classroom space? Therapists are currently working in spaces where it is a challenge to meet their educational goals. Education experts generally recommend a building that utilizes 86% capacity. Under the recommended K-4 configuration, we average an 86% capacity in most of our buildings, with the exception of Myer and George Washington. This provides for enough “flex space” so therapists can have appropriate environments to meet the needs of students. As such, it was one of the contributing factors in recommending this plan. The K-5 plan would mean building capacity is at an average of about 92%.
Please provide me with an example of a school who has undergone a similar redistricting plan successfully. While the District researched many different school Districts that had undergone redistricting plans, it is hard to point to a single example. For instance, Fayeteville-Manluis District enacted a similar plan successfully, but is very different demographically than Kingston. Other Districts have enacted plans that are slightly different, but share more demographic commonalities.
Why do special education students have to move to different buildings that are not in their neighborhood? We don’t have large enough student populations of special education students to provide the appropriate classroom settings as mandated by their Individual Education Plan in each building. For example, some students require a classroom setting with 12 students, 1 teacher, and 1 aide. We don’t have enough of those students in each building to create a classroom setting for them; therefore they must be bused to neighboring schools.
Why don’t we move the sixth grade down to the Elementary Schools? The recommended K-4 model creates economy of scale and equity by merging, for example, two Grade 4 classrooms of ten students each into a single classroom with 20 students. This creates equity across the District by evening out the populations in our Elementary School classrooms. Moving the sixth grade down eliminates this opportunity.
Why not just cut the administration to save money? We are already administratively light and must maintain our current staffing levels to meet the needs of students and mandates from the State Education Department. Please read a recent “Setting the Record Straight” for details of a Mid-Hudson School Council report on administrative costs.
Even if this plan saves us $45 million dollars, I believe we will be looking at more financial issues 4-5 years in the future. Why aren’t we looking at all areas, not just our buildings? This is true. Redistricting alone will not solve our problems. This is a piece of the puzzle, not the entire solution.
Can you tell us what expenses you control, and what you do not? Yes. Click here for a list of the state mandates that impact the Kingston City School District.
The Board of Regents has stated that full time librarians raise student achievement. Under the recommended K-4 model, will there be a full time librarian in every building? Yes.
Why are we closing Elementary School buildings where students are performing well and teachers are effective? The bricks and mortar of buildings do not help students achieve. Teachers have the greatest impact on student achievement. In tandem with the redistricting plan, we will look at instruction and make sure that we are modeling the best practices from our most successful schools in all of our buildings.
Where will we find the money for instructional coaches in each building? The current sixth graders do not have this opportunity. With every dollar that we save from redistricting, some of that money will have to be reinvested in our educational program to make it successful. This plan is about reshaping education in the Kingston City School District as well as closing the budget gap.