Press-Republican

April 22, 2013

BCSD gathers budget input with phone survey

By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
Press-Republican

---- — BEEKMANTOWN — A survey helped shape Beekmantown Central School’s proposed 2013-14 budget.

The automated telephone survey last month, which came at no cost to BCSD, consisted of 29 questions designed to gain insight into the community’s opinions on budget-related matters.

“The intent of the survey was to afford the board and the district more opportunity to get the viewpoints, divergent or convergent, from the larger community,” District Superintendent Scott Amo said.

“In previous years, there have been, from time to time, challenges to whether or not we all understand what our community would support when we present a budget to them.”

REFLECTED IN BUDGET

More than 1,000 district residents completed the survey, weighing in on such topics as the district’s financial stability, safety measures, course and program offerings, employee health-care contributions, tax-levy, class sizes and overall quality of education.

While 84 percent of respondents identified themselves as either parents or grandparents of current or former Beekmantown Central students, past and present district employees and other community members also participated.

Amo said the survey results indicated desires among respondents to maintain Advanced-Placement and college-level courses; art, music and physical-education staffing; modified, junior-varsity and varsity interscholastic athletics; and Universal Prekindergarten.

These desires, he noted, are reflected in the district’s budget proposal, which calls for those areas to remain intact.

ADMIN POSTS RETAINED

The survey results, Amo added, also contributed to BCSD’s decision to retain both its Middle School and High School assistant principal positions, which had been considered for elimination as a cost-saving measure.

“I think the survey performed a valuable function, and I hope it continues to perform one for many years to come,” he said.

“Eventually there will be new (administration) around in this organization, and I hope that they get better at refining their questions ... and truly encourage voters then to come out and register those (survey) opinions (in the voting booth).”

ONLINE FEEDBACK

Beekmantown Central Education Technology Coordinator Gary Lambert said the survey is one of many ways the district has made efforts to involve the community in the budget-planning process.

Last school year, he noted, BCSD created the Budget Containment & Reduction Ideas page on its website, bcsdk12.org. The page allows people to submit cost-saving suggestions, which are then posted to the site and shared with Amo and the School Board.

District officials also provide responses to submissions, Lambert said, when they are warranted or requested.

In addition, he noted, the school’s site contains information detailing each of Beekmantown Central’s spending plans from the 2004-05 academic year to the present, as well as a recently implemented page offering answers to frequently asked budget-related questions.

Email Ashleigh Livingston:alivingston@pressrepublican.com