By Louisa Benatovich
A $13.1 million budget with a 2 percent increase in the tax levy will be presented to Ellicottville Central School District voters when they attend the polls on May 21.
The levy, now under the jurisdiction of the statewide 2 percent tax cap, assures Ellicottville residents the second lowest tax rate in Western New York.
“ECS has learned how to do more with less,” said Superintendent Bob Miller at the onset of his budget presentation. “We receive the lowest amount of foundation aid in the county and had the third-lowest budget last year. Nevertheless, we maintain high state test scores and all-around amazing results.”
This year, ECS is estimated to receive approximately $2.83 million in state aid, about $690,000 lower than the next closest district. Additionally, the school receives the NYS minimum BOCES aid ratio, approximately 36 percent.
ECS also boasts the fourth lowest expenditure per pupil in the county at $19,396 each. With the proposed budget, each student benefits from an increase of $33. Other schools project a sum of around $200.
“I think we have done a good job of being fiscally sound and responsible,” said Miller. “As a district, we get it done!”
In the 2019-20 scholastic year, Ellicottville’s ability to generate new money should rise. With the 2 percent tax increase, the district would gain $148,880. The district can generate a total of $169,978 in new money with this levy and the expected increase in foundation aid.
The newly-acquired revenue will be utilized to purchase 75 replacement student laptops — a necessary maintenance measure — and a new high-speed copier. The current copier was purchased to make 600,000 copies, but, due to the high volume of necessary printing, ECS tallies over 7,000,000 copies.
The allotted Smart Schools Bond Act payments will serve to fund the purchase of 3 additional Cleartouch interactive boards and the installation of a security camera server. This year, ECS is in the third stage of increased participation with CA BOCES science kits, saving the district time and money.
Also on the projected expenditures list lies general software upgrades, as well as the preservation of funding for teacher-created curriculums. ECS will be leasing three new busses, as well.
On the hiring side, ECS will be employing a full-time psychologist to better serve students
“In this age of mental health concerns,” says Miller, “we really need the help.”
ECS will also be hiring a 2nd full time Special Education teacher in the elementary for students with IEPS.
“Last year was a maintenance year and this year we are hiring and making big purchases,” Miller added.
Currently, the tax levy rate is $8.75 per $1,000 of assessed value. “We really kept it consistent,” said Miller. “But Ellicottville is still growing and we won’t be sure until August.”
ALSO ON THE ballot Tuesday, two ECS parents are vying for 5-year positions on the school board.
Robert Van Wicklin, a veteran member, stressed the importance of the school in our area during his speech.
“What we have to do is be good stewards of our tax money,” said Van Wicklin. “I am looking forward to serving again if I am reelected.”
Shana Chudy, an Olean kindergarten teacher, has been a part of the ECS district her whole life.
“I love this place,” said Chudy. “I am so excited to have gotten this opportunity. My husband and I met here, we put our kids here, we live here. I want to get into the nuts and bolts of how the district works.”
More information concerning the candidates and the breakdown of expenditures can be found in the May 2019 newsletter at www.ellicottvillecentral.com.
The budget vote will be held from 1 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 21 at Ellicottville Central School.