This week marks the beginning of my fourth month as Superintendent of the Victor Central School District (VCSD) and I continue to be amazed at the caliber of students and staff that we have in our community!
As we continue to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, our District also faces a challenging budget situation.
Specifically, our District has experienced tremendous growth over the past 15 years and funding has not kept pace with this growth. Our District ranks in the bottom quartile of school districts in New York State for State Aid (funding) received. This has led Victor to have the lowest per pupil expenditure of any school district in New York State as referenced by NY State Comptroller data, along with the lowest tax rate of any district of comparable size in the area.
Lack of funding has impacted staffing ratios throughout the District. For example, VCSD spends the least amount of money on instructional staffing as compared to Rochester area schools with more than 1500 students. VCSD is also significantly understaffed in mental health support, safety and security, curriculum, cleaning and maintenance, and technology. These shortages have become further evident in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
Despite the impact of our revenue shortage on our staffing, our District is widely considered to be one of the best school districts in the state. This is, no doubt, a tribute to our students, staff and community, but going forward, it will take much more than tenacity to maintain this exemplary status. In order for our District to continue on a path of success, it is critically important that we examine ways to increase revenue to maintain the excellence for which the District is known.
To that end, our Board of Education has adopted a budget that exceeds the tax cap for the 2020-21 school year.
The specific amounts are detailed in this budget newsletter. Three important points:
- The proposed budget to budget increase is less than the previous year’s increase.
- We are only adding a small number of positions in special education, English Language Learners (ELL) and high school counseling. The vast majority of the override is to keep existing positions and to not dip into our already critically low savings.
- Even after this tax cap override, we anticipate the Victor Central School District will continue to have the lowest per pupil expenditure and the lowest tax rate of any school district of similar size in the area.
As a District, we deeply value the importance of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. This is not a decision which we take lightly, especially with the knowledge that many of you are suffering from the impacts of COVID-19. If we do not exceed the tax cap, we will be forced to make more than $3 million in reductions, impacting secondary course offerings, art and music at the elementary level, enrichment experiences, class sizes, athletic opportunities, co-curricular experiences and possibly pre-school. This will drastically change the way we educate our children in our District.
I encourage you to review the information in this newsletter and ask questions. Knowledge is power, and the more informed our community is the better. The Board-approved budget will be put in front of VCS voters with mail in ballots due by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Budget passage will require a supermajority approval of 60% or more.
Additional budget-related information can be found on our website, victorschools.org.
Please reach out to me via email or phone if you have any questions.