The Pioneer Board of Education got its first full look at the proposed $62,398,491 general fund budget for 2022-23. The spending increase is 5.01 percent.

Meeting in its first in-person session since last summer, the board listened to Assistant Superintendent Nick Silvaroli outline such major areas of the budget as Salaries and Benefits, BOCES, Transportation and Debt Service.

Mr. Silvaroli explained several factors influencing the Salaries and Benefits expenditures, including the hiring of in-house cleaners for the middle and high school. That move was influenced by funding received by the district through federal COVID grants, as was the decision to hire four temporary elementary teachers and such permanent positions as a K-4 literary specialist, two middle school special education teachers, and one registered nurse.

As part of the presentation, Mr. Silvaroli reported on trends in the enrollment, which was at 2424 before the pandemic. It fell to 2256 in 2020-21, and stands currently at 2,264.

Mr. Silvaroli said next year's budget calls for revenues of $62,276,465 and expenditures of $62,398,491—a difference of $122,035. He said Pioneer will have to see how negotiations play out between the governor's office and the state Legislature.

Highlights of the budget: 

► The plan maintains existing programs and services, such as  UPK, Finance Academy, Ag Program, Project Lead the Way, Career Tech, foreign language, music, athletics, Center for Positive Solutions, and other elective courses 

►Preserves building discretionary budgets 

►Supports extraclassroom and afterschool activities

► Staff changes:

  • Adds 2.0 FTE Special Education Teachers
  • Adds 1.0 FTE Literacy Specialist
  • Adds 1.0 FTE Registered Nurse
  • Exchanges 2 Home Ed. Liaisons for 2 Elementary Guidance Counselors
  • Exchanges a 0.6 FTE BOCES Computer Tech for a 1.0 FTE Pioneer Computer Tech

►HVAC maintenance service through BOCES 

► Approx. $10,000 for buildings supplies across all four buildings 

►Increase technology equipment replacement budget by $15,000

► Carries a tax levy increase below the tax cap 

► Plan reduces reliance of Assigned Fund Balance 

► Puts the district in a good strategic position for 2023-24 

More discussion on the budget is scheduled for the next board meeting on April 5. Target date for budget adoption is April 19. Voters will have their say on the plan on May 17.