WESTPORT — The Westport School Board will be sending voters a 2007-08 budget with a tax-levy increase of 3.4 percent on May 15.The budget totals $4,757,437, up 4.34 percent from this school year.The School Board reviewed the state-aid numbers and found an increase of $140,058, or 9.25 percent, to $1,654,029.A proposition to purchase one new school bus will be before the voters, to be paid for out of the bus reserve fund.
Jim Jarrard of the Northeastern Regional Information Center gave the board an overview and answered questions about the possible implementation of both the Star Base database system and a Charter Communication link-up."It is the most powerful student-information system I've seen in 25 years," Jarrard said.Among the possible uses by the district are student attendance, grading, record keeping, cafeteria management, school inventory and medical information, such as allergies.In addition, it can be set up to provide automatic correspondence with parents concerning issues such as tardiness.The program can also readily gain access to the State Education Department.Employee training would be in three phases. Before the school year starts, there would be a workshop on attendance and class record keeping. Later workshops would focus on report-card grading and setting up correspondence with parents.Confidentiality would be controlled by the district.The Star Base system is being used by 141 districts in seven BOCES systems, including many schools in the North Country, Jarrard said.
The idea of bringing a fiber-optic circuit to the school was also presented. Jarrard explained this would allow for faster communication.Although the first-year price tag would be $16,336, with state aid and the fact that the actual cable installation to the school would be free, Westport Central School would pay $4,496.
A discussion ensued about $1,000 to be budgeted for the Drama Club to attend a conference next year.While the board members expressed their approval for worthiness of the venture, the current Drama Club adviser, Jim Carroll, is also a School Board member, and there was concern that approval of the money would be construed as favoritism.Carroll said someone else could assume the leadership role, as he was more interested in assuring that the program would continue.He equated the club to school sports teams, labeling it "varsity drama."Another concern, voiced by David Goldwasser, might be a future need to divide funds in an equitable way should other groups vie for money. The School Board approved the funding.Superintendent Karen Tromblee complimented the board members, saying they "should be proud that the budget, staff and technology is in place, while still looking out for the taxpayers."She felt there was "quality dialogue in which you can learn to disagree and still shake hands at the end."
In addition, the School Board accepted the state audit, conducted from August through October 2006.The district will be undertaking the corrective actions of updating inventory electronically and establishing a procedure and protocol for asset disposal and relocation.The public may view the Report of Examination by the Office of the New York State Comptroller at the school or online at www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov.
The next scheduled meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 19, in the library.The board also plans several budget presentations to Westport groups, though the dates have not yet been set.