BoE Hears World Trip Presentations, Update on Proposed 2018 - 2019 Budget

On Monday, March 5, the Pawling Central School District Board of Education met at Pawling Elementary School. On the evening’s agenda were a presentation from students who recently returned from the international field trip to Quebec City, a proposal for a 2019 excursion to Spain, and an update of the 2018-19 fiscal year budget.

Officials first heard a presentation from French teacher Mirela Spinelli, PHS principal Helen Callan, and several students who recently returned from the high school’s first international field trip to Quebec City in February. After an introduction from Mme. Spinelli, the students expressed their gratitude to the chaperones, administrators, and parents whose support made the trip possible. Described as “a once in a lifetime experience,” the trip to Quebec City allowed the 36 participation students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the language, culture, and traditions of the region. The students related their favorites experiences to the Board members, including dog sledding, snow tubing, and a visit to Quebec’s authentic ice hotel. Officials were also pleased with the conduct of the students who attended the trip, stating that the students’ behavior reflected positively on both the school district and the Pawling community. Tentatively, French class students from Pawling will be offered a trip to Montreal in two years.

Following the presentation from the students of the world language program, the Board heard from Spanish instructor Señora Erin Plati. Sra. Plati was in attendance to propose another international field trip, which would see students traveling to Madrid, Spain. Ideally, the trip would take place during Spring Break of 2019 and would offer the same immersive cultural and linguistic experience as the Quebec City trip. Sra. Plati is currently researching tour companies and accommodations; she is also considering the implementation a payment plan for parents to make the trip expenses more manageable. In addition to guided tours of historical and cultural attractions, the trip may also include cooking classes conducted by native speakers, and a visit to a Spanish school to observe educational practices in a foreign country. The proposal was met by approval from the Board, and school officials will begin to gauge student and parent interest in the proposed trip to Madrid.

In other business, Superintendent William Ward and Assistant Superintendent for Finance Neysa Sensenig provided an update on the ongoing process of setting the budget for the 2018 – 2019 fiscal year. Dr. Ward first reiterated the district’s goals and priorities for the year, including the continued employment of an efficient and transparent process to develop a responsible budget for the near and long term while maintaining or enhancing the integrity of programs and services at all PSCD schools. These goals also include the challenges and opportunities that the district will encounter in the next five years, including declining enrollment, tax cap legislation, the five-year capital project plan, and maintaining positive labor relations. Currently, officials are projecting a 2% enrollment decline for next year, based on the most recent enrollment statistics.

Currently, the proposed budget for 2018 – 2019 is $37,670,716, which represents an increase of 2.73%. Under this proposed budget, all academic programs will be maintained with a continued focus on supporting all learners. In addition, all Fine and Performing Arts offerings will be continued, and no athletic programs will be cut. This budget will also allow for the transfer of $500,000 to the district’s Capital Fund to support district-wide small projects and NYSED code improvements. These will include improvements to building security, new lighting, computer monitoring and controls, and improvements to auditoriums, cooling, and ventilation.

Officials will continue to refine the budget, with a final review scheduled for the next Board of Education meeting to be held on March 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Pawling Middle School.