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Budget proposal includes 1.2 percent tax levy increase

On May 15, Port Byron Central School District residents will vote on a proposed school district budget that focuses on increasing academic achievement and supporting students, staff and community members.

The Port Byron Board of Education, on April 12, approved a proposed $21,273,209 budget that does not increase spending from the 2017-18 school year and carries a tax levy increase of 1.2 percent, or $73,472.

District seeks to expand existing services

Superintendent Neil O’Brien said the 2018-19 budget proposal aims to provide services that would enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of students, while assisting struggling families.

The proposal calls for an expansion to the district's existing free school meal program, which is supported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is currently only available at A.A. Gates Elementary School. The program provides breakfast and lunch at no cost to students, regardless of family income.

“For some students, access to healthy meals is limited,” Mr. O’Brien said. “One of the district’s top priorities is to help students get the nutrition they need so they can focus on academics and learning.”

The expansion comes through the federal Community Eligibility Provision, which was passed by Congress and signed into law in 2010 as part of a broader school nutrition measure. The federal government pays for a share of the program and qualifying school districts make up the difference.

“For some children, schoolis where they are receiving their best nutrition,” Mr. O’Brien said. “We want to make sure that we are helping all of our students and that no one gets missed or goes home hungry.”

The health benefits are obvious, but there is a psychological one, too; free food for each student means the poor and the hungry aren’t singled out, he said. The program has been at the elementary level for several years, demonstrating how much it benefits students.

Proposal includes safety upgrades

 In addition to maintaining the district’s existing programs and services, the 2018-19 budget proposal calls for some safety and security improvements, including installing electronic classroom door locks districtwide that can be locked remotely by security personnel and school administration.

District residents can vote on the proposed budget from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, in the lobby of Port Byron Central School District’s Athletic Center.