Garrison School Finalizes $10.5M Budget

Plus, other highlights from March 22 meeting

By Lily Gordon

The Garrison School Board will vote on a proposed $10.48 million budget on April 5, followed by a public meeting on May 3 and a vote by the public on May 16.

The projected budget reflects an increase in spending of $188,849 from 2016-17.

“It’s a pretty restricted budget,” said trustee David Gelber at the board’s March 22 workshop. “The difference is basically for contract-mandated increases in teacher salaries.” He asked Superintendent Laura Mitchell: “Do you feel as though you’re foregoing things that we need to keep it at this level?”

Mitchell said she was confident the school had the experts it needed, and that the restructuring of staff will address concerns about literacy and math instruction.

“We wanted to look at how we could redesign and restructure so we don’t impact the budget so harshly,” she said. “We’re meeting programmatic needs with our own staff. These adjustments are saving us money, but we’re still addressing our needs. We have the personnel.”

Garrison’s “fiscal-stress level” is expected to increase to 17.8 percent from 13.3 percent in 2016. The monitoring system, a tool of the state comptroller’s office, is designed to be an early warning system for fiscal problems. A level of 25 percent or more triggers concern.

In other business …

  • Garrison teachers participated in a professional development learning day on March 17. They spent the morning in accelerated reader and math training with a consultant from the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center. Teachers also met with a consultant from Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES on classroom team-building and positive approaches to discipline.
  • After being contacted by several families about sending Garrison graduates to public high schools other than Haldane in Cold Spring and James O’Neill in Highlands Falls, Mitchell said she has started gathering data on non-resident tuition and transportation costs.
  • The board adopted the 2017-18 calendar. The first day of school will be Tuesday, Sept. 5.