Caroline Murray/Recorder staff Outgoing Northville Central School District Superintendent Debra Lynker discusses the re-proposed budget for the 2014-15 school year as incoming board member Dean Shepard, left, outgoing board president Sheldon Ginter and vice president of the board James Berlein look on at a special board meeting Monday.
By CAROLINE MURRAY
NORTHVILLE -- A small but opinionated group of residents turned out for Northville Central School District's special budget hearing Monday.
The meeting was held following the board of education's decision to put forth the same 2014-15 budget that was narrowly rejected May 20.
At the hearing, outgoing Superintendent Debra Lynker outlined the district's proposed $10 million budget that includes a 3.88 percent tax levy increase -- a figure that exceeds the state-imposed 1.12 percent property tax cap.
"It is a really good budget. There is not a lot of fat, but it builds a future so that hopefully our children will have opportunities for many years to come," Lynker said.
With this spending plan, Lynker reminded the crowd a part-time shared Spanish teacher, a part-time custodian, junior varsity baseball and softball teams, among other extra curricular programs, would be restored to the district.
Without passing the plan, she said the aforementioned items would be cut, with the exception of the Spanish teacher, and the district would lose out on $217,000 worth of programs, staff and a new bus proposition.
Northville resident Renee Mackey asked why residents could not vote on certain items separately. Mackey said since taxpayers make up the majority of the school district's revenue, they should have the ability to pick and choose what makes it into the plan.
Mackey and her husband Brian Mackey said they did not understand the board's proposal to hire a part-time custodian.
"Why is it all or nothing?" Mackey asked. "You want us to pay for it, but you don't want us to have a say in it. That does not make any sense."
Board president Sheldon Ginter said the board cannot create an "a la carte budget," and said workshops are held at the beginning of the new year for community members who want a say in the budget configuration.
Lynker said the board takes into consideration the public's input while constructing the plan.
She said the district has two custodians; they do a good job, but could use the extra help when one employee is not available. They are allotted one hour for a dinner break. During this time, the building is not cleaned and goes unsupervised, she said.
Lynker said the part-time position does not include benefits and is not a significant cost.
Renee Mackey also said the building and grounds are in poor shape. That includes the track and soccer field, and there is nothing in the budget addressing these issues.
"It is a sad state of affairs when my children don't have the things that I had, let alone newer things I will never see," Mackey said.
Lynker said those are capital projects. The board all agreed additional custodial services would help maintain the property better.
However, board member James Beirlein said the board could look into repairing the track next year instead of replacing it.
Beirlein said Mackey's concerns are typical, and the board encourages the public to participate in workshops prior to the hearings.
"Everyone wants something different," Beirlein said.
Northville resident Kirk Tooley taught at the district for 32 years. He said he has witnessed a lot of budget hearings throughout his experience and believed the 2014-15 proposal was fair.
Tooley said he has networked with the older community to help spread the word to get them to pass the budget.
"Vote for this budget like your kids are in school," he said. "It seems like a modest budget."
The residents will vote again June 17 from noon to 8 p.m. in the gymnasium. To pass, the budget needs a 60 percent super-majority since it exceeds the state-imposed tax cap.
Last month, the plan was five votes short of approval.
At the end of the special hearing, Lynker presented the school's academic progress.
Incoming Superintendent Leslie Ford also made a speech about the future of the district. Ford said it is important for families and community members to join existing groups that focus on improving the district. In turn, she said it was just as important for her and other officials to embrace the community and help the area flourish.
Lynker is leaving the district in July.
"This is hard for me ... I'll miss it," she said. "It is a wonderful place and a wonderful school."
Ginter is also ending his term on the school board. Monday marked his last official board meeting after years of service. He said a new president will be appointed at the first meeting in July.
"It has been a good time," Ginter said. "We started a lot of good things. My hope is the board will find a way to continue the improvements we have made and continue with new improvements."