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Red Hook proposes 2024-25 budget that stays under tax cap, maintains services

Red Hook Central School District
A rendering of the proposed Red Hook multipurpose educational field.

The Red Hook Central School District is proposing a $62.84 million 2024-25 budget that maintains services enjoyed by district families while remaining under the tax cap.

The budget vote and school board election is Tuesday, May 21. In addition to the budget, there are four propositions on the ballot, including a capital improvement project. Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. at Mill Road Intermediate School.

Red Hook officials are inviting all community members to learn more about the budget and the programs offered throughout the district at its inaugural Budget Expo at Red Hook High School, 6 p.m., on May 8. Following a 6:30 p.m. budget hearing in the Performing Arts Center, residents will be able to speak with staff and student representatives of many programs and initiatives, as well as learn more about the propositions. Refreshments will be available.

The $62,844,338 million spending plan, adopted by the Board of Education April 23, represents a 4.26-percent increase over 2023-24 and a 3.47-percent increase to the tax levy. Bruce Martin, Assistant Superintendent for Business, noted due to the growth of the tax base, the district anticipates the actual increase to the typical tax bill to be in the range of 2.25 to 2.5 percent.

The budget includes roughly $17.75 million in state aid and $2.8 million of appropriated fund balance. The district would maintain an unassigned fund balance of $2.5 million.

While Martin called it a “status quo” budget, he noted it includes funding to hire an assistant principal for Mill Road, as the district moves forward with plans to consolidate its two elementary schools.

The district also plans to continue its commitment to the 1:1 laptop initiative begun two years ago at the middle and high schools. Approximately 150 new laptops would be purchased and given to incoming high school freshmen, and graduating seniors laptops will be reissued to fifth-grade students for use in their classrooms.

“The district’s proposed spending plan is fiscally responsible while being mindful of the holistic needs of each student and conscious of environmental sustainability,” Superintendent Dr. Janet Warden said. “We hope residents agree and support the budget and each proposition on May 21.”

Should district voters decline to support the budget proposal, the district’s contingency budget of $61,514,705 would precipitate several measures to decrease spending, including the elimination of between 11 and 15 staff positions, and the discontinuation of several existing programs.

The district is holding a voter registration event on May 8 from 2 to 7:30 p.m. at the Red Hook High School Performing Arts Center. Applications for Early Mail ballots and absentee ballots will also be available.

The budget newsletter will be available on the Red Hook district website May 2, one day after copies of the proposed budget and propositions will be available in district offices. The newsletter is scheduled to be delivered to residents by USPS between May 9-14.

What else is on the ballot

Three seats on the Board of Education are open, each carrying three-year terms. Five candidates will appear on the ballot: Austin Crittenden, Jennifer Mañón, Seth Halvorson, Mark G. Maroney and Erin Misasi.

There are four additional propositions on the ballot separate from the budget: A school bus purchase, a $14.95 million capital improvement project, and increases in appropriations for the Red Hook and Tivoli Free libraries.

Proposition 2 asks voters to approve up to $500,000 to purchase electric school buses, with a maximum cost of $250,000 per bus after outside grant or funding assistance.

Proposition 3 asks voters to approve a capital improvement project which includes:

  • New LED lighting for Red Hook High School and Mill Road Elementary School
  • Expanding and upgrading the air conditioning at Mill Road
  • Bolstering the boiler system at Linden Avenue Middle School
  • Expanding ease of access to the lockdown system in each school
  • Repairs to the four front columns of the Linden Avenue building
  • Installation of a multipurpose educational and athletic field
  • Installation of new field lighting
  • Resurfacing of the outdoor track, which is cracked and was last resurfaced in 2010
  • Improvements to the other athletic fields’ drainage system
  • New fencing for the track and multipurpose field
  • Replacement of the high school’s gymnasium bleachers and wall padding, and renovation of its floor

The district is intending to bond the project over a 15-year period, with state aid expected to pay for 64.4 percent of the project. The average cost to a district taxpayer is projected at 1.4 percent for the first year, but would be expected to decline over the course of project.

Proposition 4 asks voters to increase the annual appropriation to the Red Hook Library by $16,000, to the total amount of $224,400. Proposition 5 asks voters to increase the annual appropriation to the Tivoli Free Library by $15,071, to the total amount of $105,371.

For more information on voting, the budget, school board election and propositions, visit RedHookCentralSchools.org

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