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Pleasantville Schools Focus on Long-Term Planning

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – Long-term planning has become the focus for Pleasantville school officials following Tuesday’s approval of a budget for the 2012-13 school year. Board of education members believe the creation of a capital reserve fund is necessary with the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap leaving the district with less wiggle room.

"I think it would be a wise thing for us to establish it," said Thomas Exton, a board member. "Because otherwise our buildings are gonna be falling down and I’d rather avoid coming to the community and say ‘hey, we need to pass a $2 million bond. Surprise.'"

Board member Shane McGaffey said long-term planning will help the district better operate under the tax cap as rates for bonds could increase in the future, while the list of projects will never get shorter.

“What we want do is give stability, tax stability, to people,” McGaffey said. “So they understand, ‘OK, part of this is being covered. I know that my taxes are gonna be around the 2 percent level.’ When there’s stability, people can make decisions.”

Some of those projects include repairs to the to middle school's roof and the high school's athletic turf field, which Exton estimates will alone cost the district at least six figures.

Money for the capital reserve fund can be accrued from unassigned fund balance or it could be a taxable item included in the budget, said school attorney Margo May.

According to May, the fund would be for capital projects that cost more than $100,000, as projects less than $100,000 can be included in the regular budget. She said voters have to approve any use of the fund, which can be one broad fund or be split into specific projects.

The support for the fund was unanimous among the members, however, a proposition for its creation will not be included on the ballot in May.

“In order to involve the community more and to be able to work through the list, use the building condition survey and get more input from our administration, we need more time,” said Lois Winkler, board president. “I think it’s important for the community to give us more feedback.”

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