Red Jacket’s Commitment to Fiscal Health & Responsibility is Unwavering;
Yes, It’s True!
Large scale to small, the Manchester-Shortsville Central School District is saving money, maximizing resources and providing our students, staff, and community with a great school environment - both inside and out!
How are we doing this?
If you have been reading our newsletters, it will not be the first time you heard me say, “Capital Projects are the most affordable way for School Districts to address high-cost repairs, improve safety and security, and make improvements.”
In order to address some of our more serious needs such as upgrading safety and security, replacing outdated and faulty electrical wiring, replacing failing interior and exterior lighting, improving HVAC efficiency, or addressing worrisome underground fuel tanks without placing the entire burden on the District and community members, the State sets aside tax dollars for Districts to use. There are requirements set forth by the State Education Department to access such funds. If the funds are not used by our School District, they are given to other School Districts – it does not go back into the pockets of taxpayers. The State encourages Districts to set up a Capital Project Reserve, which is like a savings account to offset the amount the State doesn’t pay. Once funds are placed in the Capital Project Reserve, there are restrictions placed on the District for its use. Capital Project Reserves can only be used for capital projects.
Currently, the State will pay for approximately 88.8% of our $3.1 million capital project and our District has the remaining portion of the balance (approximately 11%) set aside. Therefore, this capital project will not and has not resulted in any additional cost to taxpayers.
Net Zero Project
If you have spent time in our school/public library, elementary gym, high school gym, or some of our classrooms, you may notice we have beautiful, new, energy-efficient LED lighting. This lighting was purchased through the State Aided, Net Zero Project, which is an energy savings project that will reduce our energy bills by an estimated $5,500 annually, not to mention the maintenance savings associated with not having to replace the bulbs and ballasts every few years. The new LED lighting will only need to be replaced when the fixture has reached the end of its useful life. In the case of the gymnasiums, and the exterior parking lot lighting fixtures purchased through the Capital Project, the LED fixtures should last 50,000 hours. The gymnasium spaces are projected to run the new lights 2,080 hours per year, which means that these fixtures should last at least 24 years.
The District received State Aid on this project and, in addition, received a rebate check from NYSEG and RG&E in the amount of $26,400. This project ended up making a small profit for the District!
Energy Performance Project
This project is a larger Energy Performance Project that is currently awaiting approval from the State Education Department. Like the Net Zero Project, C&S Companies out of Syracuse, sent their team of engineers to review our facilities and engineering documentation to develop a comprehensive list of energy reduction and facility improvement opportunities. I have coordinated several combined meetings with our Capital Project Architects from SEI Design Group, Watch Dog, who is providing enhanced clerk services for the current Capital Project, the C&S team and our head of maintenance to maximize our facility improvement potential.
This energy performance project is intended to reduce the District’s carbon footprint and energy expenditures 33% by continuing to replace fluorescent lighting fixtures with efficient LED fixtures, replacing nine older inefficient condensing units, replacing the exiting chiller, replacing our three hot water heater pump motors, replacing one of our three boilers, replacing two hot water heaters, replacing six aging rooftop units, and further upgrading our HVAC Control System.
This project is State Aided, with an annual payment from the State expected to be approximately $130,000, with an annual savings of approximately $108,000 and a net annual benefit to the District of approximately $54,614 with eligibility for a one-time incentive of approximately $35,000.
Demand Response (DR) Program
Thanks to Mike Roddenbery, our head maintenance mechanic, who met with me to suggest we look into this program, Red jacket is participating in the Demand Response Program. We are now part of increased efforts to allow utilities and NYISO electric grid operators to decrease stress by reducing demand for electricity across the New York Control Area, which is a vast area of interconnected power systems that cover most of eastern US and Canada.
Power grid operations require maintaining constant balance between electric generation and load, which includes maintaining power flows and ensuring voltage is maintained within appropriate limits. Without this balance, short-term brownouts to widespread blackouts can occur.
The Demand Response Program is an important factor in electrical system planning and I am proud to say that Red Jacket is doing its part to help ensure reliable electric supply, keep electricity costs lower during periods of high demand, and reduce our impact on the environment. An added bonus to being involved in this free program is that our District gets paid money for agreeing to reduce electric consumption for a short period of time (one to six hours), in a portion of our facility when asked to do so.
Salvaging Scrap Metal and Equipment
Through the combined efforts of Jim Cheasman, head mechanic; Kathy Haas, our head cleaner; and Mike Roddenbery, head of maintenance; and the support of our Board of Education, we have been able to salvage scrap metal, such as the truckload of 48 year-old metal blinds seen in this picture, and sell outdated, unused, and inoperable equipment that has been in storage. As a result, our District has made a little over $20,000 so far. We will continue this practice.
Sharing Services, Renting Space and Consolidation of Administrative Responsibilities
Our District takes advantage of cost savings by sharing services through BOCES and with other schools. By doing this, we are able to obtain services at a lower cost and receive aid back the following school year. For example, we currently share a Director of Food Services with another District, which saves us approximately $13,000 per year and allows Red Jacket to receive aid in the subsequent year. The District also participates in cooperative agreements for a variety of purchases and employee benefits as an added cost savings measure. Additionally, we receive $125,000 in classroom rental annually from BOCES.
No other time in the history of education has there been so many federal and state mandates, so much pressure to perform and prepare our children to compete in a highly technical and competitive world, nor has there been such a high level of expectation, pressure, and accountability in education for administrators. Each member of our administrative team has more than a full-time administrative position. These additional duties (Business Manager, Director of Special Services, Data Coordinator, Director of Transportation, Director of Buildings and Grounds, lack of enough secretarial support to address needs at the Middle School and District Office), which are full-time positions in other School Districts, has saved the Manchester-Shortsville Central School District, minimally, over $300,000 annually! We are analyzing our current state to strategically address the need we have for reinstatement of some of these positions.
Remaining Under the Tax Cap = Tax Freeze
The New York State Legislature enacted a two-year property tax freeze as part of the 2014-2015 state budget. The State will reimburse property taxes paid by homeowners to school districts and municipalities that stay within their 2% tax levy growth caps for the next two years. The Manchester-Shortsville Central School District has stayed under the 2% tax levy growth. District residents who are eligible for the School Tax Relief (STAR) property tax exemption should receive a tax credit from New York State this fall. As a general rule, the freeze credit will reimburse eligible homeowners for increases to their property taxes. The freeze credit will be the greater of the actual increase in the homeowner’s tax bill or the previous year’s tax bill multiplied by an inflation factor (the lesser of 2% or inflation). For 2014, the inflation factor for school districts is 1.46%. Homeowners who do not receive a check and believe they are entitled to the credit should contact the New York State Department of Taxation to have their case reviewed.
Red Jacket School Tax Levy over the Past Three Years
Despite the lingering $704,000 reduction in State Aid from 2008-2009 and the ever-rising costs of utilities, fuel, materials, pensions, health insurance, worker’s compensation, contractual salaries, programs and services, and special education services, Red Jacket Schools has demonstrated unwavering commitment to control expenditures while maintaining excellence in education.
School Tax Levy
Mayor Nancy Johnsen, Manchester Town Supervisor, Jeffery Gallahan; and Town Councilman, Doug Davis reached out to the District and Village of Manchester to share the cost of purchasing two solar-powered beacons for our crosswalk on Route 21 in front of the school. We have all been very concerned about the safety of our student walkers and our favorite crossing guard, Mark Pappert. Sharing the cost makes good economical sense for everyone. The District’s share will be under $2,000. I look forward to continuing our partnership with the villages and towns to share services where it makes sense and to do what we can together to improve our school and communities while also easing the economic stress placed on property owners.
Large scale to small, the Manchester-Shortsville Central School District is saving money, maximizing resources and providing our students, staff, and community with a great school environment – both inside and out!
How are we doing this?
The answer is easy, we have your support.
On behalf of the Manchester-Shortsville Central School District students and staff, I would like to express my gratitude to our community residents and Board of Education for the support we have received and the synergy we have created together to make Red Jacket Schools the singular, common denominator between our two communities in providing a personalized, exceptional education, and a great learning environment for our children! Thank you for your continued support.
Superintendent of Schools