Status quo kept in Dunkirk School tax rates

Households with children attending school in the Dunkirk City School District will not see any changes in their tax rates for the upcoming school year.

School Business Manager William Thiel was on hand during a recent Dunkirk Board of Education meeting to give his yearly presentation on the tax rates. Thiel kept what he had to say brief and simplistic.

“The theme of this year’s presentation is nothing has changed,” he said at the beginning of his presentation. “The equalization rate stayed the same and the assessments were all fine. Basically, what we ended up with was a penny decrease in each of the three tax rates (in the city and town of Dunkirk and the town of Sheridan). That’s about as stable as you can get.”

The budget plan adopted in May called for a tax levy of $9.6 million. That amount has stayed relatively flat for six years, including the upcoming year.

Thiel said households receiving a STAR Exemption will be the ones who see the biggest changes on their tax bills, as rates have decreased for that exemption.

“Because the Basic STAR deduction has reduced, the amount of state repayment has reduced and therefore the bill does increase by about $22,” Thiel said. “This is the same on the Enhanced STAR values (which will increase the bill by about $26). Again, the change within the tax bill is within the change in the STAR. If the equalization rates stay flat for one more year, those STAR rates should flatten out, as well.”

Taxes will be collected from Sept. 9 through Oct. 11. They will also be collected from Oct. 15 through 18 with a two percent penalty added.

After Thiel’s presentation, Superintendent Gary Cerne addressed the recent concerns over state test scores within the school.

“I’m not happy with our scores. I’m very disappointed, but I think we need to keep in mind the factors that play in, … (including) the rollout of the new Common Core Curriculum, which was kind of sporadic as the year progressed,” he said. “I think it put the kids at a disadvantage and the teachers at a disadvantage. Children were even breaking down and crying during the tests. I just feel bad for the children and the staff that had to endure this year, but I guess it’s another one of those things that’s outside our control. The state wanted baseline data and we now have baseline data.”

Cerne added there has been good news regarding the topic due to an excellent summer of professional development for the teachers. He also said he remains optimistic the school will see an increase in its test scores.

Also during the meeting, the board approved several appointments to open positions, including a nurse at School Seven, a living environment teacher, a clerk and a maintenance worker at the high school and a clerk at the middle school.

The next regular meeting is scheduled for Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the large group instruction room of the administrative building.

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