Message from Superintendent & Board President
New York State has delayed the annual school district Budget Vote and Board of Education Election, which normally takes place the third Tuesday in May, to Tuesday, June 9, 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. All voting will take place by absentee ballot (no in-person voting). The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District is providing each voter with an absentee ballot and a postage-paid envelope so residents can still take part in this election without any danger of exposure. Our highest priority is keeping our community safe.
It is hard to believe how profoundly this public health crisis has impacted our school district community. School buildings have been closed since March 16, though all students have engaged in online and remote learning for the duration of the closure. Teachers had to adapt quickly, adjusting their lesson plans and strategies to engage students remotely. Other staff had to adapt as well to ensure that critical operations continue uninterrupted and students are supported at home. Although students have been able to continue their academic progress, they have missed out on so many educational experiences and milestones.
Teachers and staff had very little time to prepare for the coronavirus closure, and their efforts have been nothing short of extraordinary. It is truly inspiring to see the creativity and dedication demonstrated by our staff and the exceptional efforts of our students and families at home. It is also truly inspiring to see all the ways our community has come together in the face of this public health crisis, from donating personal protective equipment for our brave health care workers and first responders to lending a helping hand to families in need in the community.
The coronavirus pandemic, and the extraordinary measures that have been taken to contain it, have significantly impacted school district budgets. School districts across New York State have had to achieve significant cost savings and scale back programming due to the economic impact of the virus and projected losses in New York State Aid. Ken-Ton, unfortunately, was no exception. As with any year, the district was already facing significant increases in many fixed costs that school districts have little or no control over, as well as unfunded mandates imposed by New York State. Even before the crisis began, the district was facing a $4 million budget gap. The district had to identify ways to significantly reduce spending and achieve savings in many key areas in order to close this gap, which was only exacerbated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Very difficult decisions had to be made including reductions in staffing, but it was critical in order to craft a responsible budget for our property taxpayers. With a year-to-year increase of only 1.08 percent, which is significantly below the 20-year average, the proposed 2020-21 school district budget remains under the New York State Property Tax Cap. This was a priority for the Ken-Ton School District, because we are always mindful of the impact on property taxpayers and because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the local economy. The district’s strong financial position is helping us weather this difficult time and minimize the impact on student programs. However, we are facing the very real possibility that further cuts to spending will be necessitated by additional reductions in New York State Aid as the year progresses.
In addition to the proposed 2020-21 school district budget, residents will also vote on the annual bus replacement purchase, and a proposition to create a capital improvements reserve fund. It is important to note that this third proposition does not entail any spending or expenses, and is similar to how an individual might open a bank account. You will find more information on the proposed 2020-21 budget and propositions in these pages and on the website at www.ktufsd.org/budget. You will also find information on each of the Board of Education candidates. Each voter will receive his or her absentee ballot and postage-paid envelope through the U.S. mail. Completed ballots must be received no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, so voters are encouraged to mail their ballots several days before this date. We are pleased to offer our community the opportunity to participate in this election through absentee balloting, and we encourage all voters to take part in this important election.
Our hearts go out to all the families in our community who have been adversely affected by COVID-19. We are proud of our entire school district community as we continue to see everyone rising to this unprecedented challenge. We are all in this together – students, families, staff, residents, and neighbors – and as we all work together through the pandemic and its aftermath, we wish for all of you and your loved ones to remain healthy and safe.
Steve Bovino, Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Jill O'Malley, Board of Education President