ST. JOHNSVILLE — The Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville Board of Education recently adopted an overall spending plan for the 2018-19 school year that includes a 1 percent increase in the tax levy.

The 2018-19 budget, unanimously adopted by the school board during an April 10 meeting, totals $19,189,342, an increase of 2.86 percent over the current year’s budget.

A one percent tax levy increase is proposed in the 2018-19 budget, for a total of $4,829,668. It also includes a $314,778 increase in state aid for a total of $13,920,431 and $184,522 in fund balance use.

District Superintendent David Halloran said in an email Friday that the increases or decreases in the budget "are difficult to determine as our pre-kindergarten and kindergarten section numbers seem low right now, which could impact staffing."

The budget includes the construction of a new pole barn.

"The purpose of the pole barn is to provide our maintenance department with storage for mowers, plows, tools, etc. … and it provides a shop to for them to work," said Halloran. "Their current location is under the old agriculture wing which is slated for demolition with the pending capital project."

The budget also takes steps toward improving school safety by adding two safety officers.

"The two safety officers represent our desire to do all we can to ensure our buildings are as safe as possible," said Halloran. "We hope to hire one officer for each building and they would only work when school is in session."

Halloran said the budget also includes the addition of a P-Tech program for students.

"The P-Tech program is an opportunity to create an early college program within our school building," he said. "The two pathways we will offer are business and construction trades. We will be able to offer free associate’s degrees to students in this program."

Halloran said the program will be offered under the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES umbrella "which provides us access to the Chamber of Commerce business liaison as well as HFM Project Based Learning coach."

"The district wants to add it because it is an excellent opportunity for students to develop the professional skills sought in the business community, learn about specific fields of study that they are interested in, and earn a free associate’s degree in 4-6 years," he said.

The OESJ school board will conduct a public hearing on the budget at 6 p.m. May 2 in the OESJ elementary school cafeteria. Voters will also decide on four school board candidates — two candidates for a full three-year term and two candidates to fill unexpired terms from resignations — and on a $250,000 bus purchase reserve. OESJ voters get to decide on the budget from 12 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 15.