Prelim budget leaves Blue Ridge with deficit

BY STACI WILSON

Blue Ridge school district taxpayers will see an increase in their tax bills if the preliminary financial figures hold when the final budget is adopted later this month.

The school board approved a preliminary budget of $16, 714, 606 at a meeting held May 27 and includes a 2.98 percent increase and raises the millage to 48.39.

The district budget still has a $15,000 deficit but hopes additional funding will alleviate the need to pull money from committed funds.
Boardmember Chris Lewis sounded the only “no” vote to the preliminary budget; with board members Dr. Patrick MacConnell and Frederick “Dean” Lewis absent from the meeting.

Food service director Linda Cole-Koloski was honored with the “Summer Champion Award” presented by the USDA and Dept. of Education.

Cole-Koloski began the summer food service program in the district several years ago. Last year, the program expanded to deliver food to the Hallstead library branch several days each week. And the food service director said she is working on bringing the program to the New Milford Park this year if possible.

The preliminary budget was the only voting item for the business meeting and board moved onto a work session following the budget discussion.

The board discussed the possibility of changing the locking system on the high school building’s front doors which would allow parents picking up their children to come into the vestibule before being let into the school.
Currently, visitors stand outside, under some cover, until they are allowed into the school.

Board members Harold Empett and Chrisine Whitney voiced objections to moving forward with a $10,000 project when the district budget was in the red.

“It’s a nicety not a necessity,” Whitney said.

The district office is now looking at next year’s bus routes.

Superintendent Robert McTiernan said more group stops would be added in New Milford, Hallstead and Great Bend, as well as in some more rural areas in places that would be both safe and convenient.

“Sidewalks are a consideration but not the only consideration,” McTiernan said.

The superintendent said the district will physically drive all of the routes before final route schedules are made.

Empett asked the superintendent to have those driving the intended routes to also make sure turnaround points can accommodate both the short and long buses.