Residents of the Wallkill Central School District will go to the polls on May 17 to vote on an $82 million school budget, and a $44 million capital improvement project, in addition to choosing three school board members.
The proposed budget of $81,713,970 represents a 2.99 percent increase over the current school year. The district is projecting state aid of $32,269,762, an increase over recent years.
The proposed tax levy of $45,784,030 represents a 2.5 percent tax increase over the current fiscal year. That’s below the state-mandated tax cap for the second year in a row, according to district administrators.
Superintendent Kevin Castle outlined the budget in a live-streamed public presentation last week and plans to appear before several PTA organizations this week. He said the budget will enable the district to maintain low class sizes (an average of 20 students per class) in grades K - 6 and continue its rollout of Chromebooks for students.
Also planned under the proposed budget is the creation of one full-time American Sign Language position and a full-time groundskeeper. Due to declining enrollment, the district plans to eliminate one high school math position through attrition and create one full-time elementary math position. This will give the district three full-time math teachers at the elementary level, with one assigned to each school building.
“Our enrollment at our high school has been declining,” Castle said. “In the last few years it’s been rather flat. Over the next couple of years we will see it declining.”
Also planned for next year is the creation of a girls’ varsity lacrosse team. Wallkill currently has a girl JV team.
The second proposition asks residents for approval of a $43,800,000 capital project.
“You want to do a project when you have retiring debt,” Castle explained, adding that the district had to borrow money, when capital projects were approved in 2007 and again in 2015, but has now paid down most of that debt and was able to create a capital reserve fund.
For this project, the district will use $10,559,986 from the capital reserve fund, with the remaining $33,240,014 to be raised by the tax levy.
Under the capital project, the district proposes to install security vestibules in each of the schools, with separate entrance and exit points and new door security hardware. Other improvements include fixing roof leaks at all schools, making air quality improvements in the gym and cafeteria of each school as well as the auditorium of the John G. Borden Middle School, new seats in the middle school auditorium, and new locker rooms, team room and gym floor in the high school. Castle noted that some rooftop ventilation units date back to the mid 1970s.
A video, outlining the capital project in greater detail can be found on the district’s website.
Castle noted that planning for the project began in 2019 but was delayed by COVID.
“We feel now is the time,” he said.
Voting will take place on May 17, between noon and 9 p.m. in each of the district’s three elementary schools.