Every day, ICC administrators and staff are juggling a host of responsibilities and commitments, all dedicated to our mission of providing a free and high-quality 21st-century education to every student K-12.
One of these responsibilities is a deep and ongoing commitment to being fiscally responsible with the funds we receive from an array of sources, including our own district residents and the state and federal governments. Day in, day out, our team of finance administrators, in collaboration with our Board of Education and staff leaders, work to ensure that we maximize every dollar that flows into our district.
The Capital Project exemplified this essential responsibility. The $27-million project allowed us to grow and diversify many of our programs so our students continue to be afforded every opportunity to be successful and to pursue their interests and passions.
But none of this would have been possible without the district’s unfaltering commitment to fiscal responsibility. This took careful and thoughtful planning, and thorough and consistent tracking of the many revenue streams and costs associated with the project.
The end result: we completed all components of the project, while staying on budget. In fact, we are happy to report that the project’s local share – what district residents pay – is about $3.8 million less than what was initially appropriated. Keep reading to learn more about these savings, and what they will mean for district taxpayers.
Coincidentally, our students recently chose the new quarterly character trait, and landed on responsibility.
Responsibility can take on many different forms and a variety of meanings. As the superintendent, it means everything I discussed above, as well as transparency, accountability, acceptance, unity and commitment.
One way we do that on a regular basis is by coming together to find ways to provide for our students and families in need, as well as residents in our community. In this edition of the Rider Report, you will see once again how our students and community have stepped up to help.
Responsibility is a common thread in everything that we do here at ICC.
Other articles in this edition:
Capital Project Savings Explained
Superintendent Search Update
Responsibility in Action
ICC students raise $4K for Ronald McDonald House Charities
Budget Season Important Dates + Overview
Coming Next in February
Capital Project Savings Explained
Projecting the financial impact of a project as large and intricate as the $27-million Capital Project takes into consideration many moving parts, including ever-changing interest rates and building aid provided by the state of New York.
Based on conservative assumptions, our administrative team finalized a projection that estimated we would need to collect approximately $12.2 million in taxes from district residents over the course of the project and life of the loan, which is known as the local share. This amount was approved by district residents in the 2019 vote.
Over the course of the project, the district’s financial leaders worked tirelessly to minimize borrowing costs and maximize building aid. Due to this prudent financial planning, the final local share was only $8.4 million – a savings of $3.8 million!
“These savings are a testament to the district’s ongoing commitment to fiscal responsibility,” said Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow. “Since I started at ICC a decade ago, I have continuously been impressed by the hard work and dedication of all those involved in ensuring our district’s stability and vitality. We have managed to grow and create new programs and have achieved high financial ratings throughout this time."
What does this mean for district residents?
Based on the approved $12.2 million local share, residents were slated to pay an additional $70 per year until 2036 (based on a home valued at $200,000). Now with the $3.8 million in savings, the Capital Project will only increase taxes by an average of $51 annually, a savings of $19 per year for the average homeowner.
“The district was extremely pleased with the financial outcome of the Capital Project” said ICC Business Manager Michael Brennan. “Through careful planning and continuous oversight, we were able to significantly reduce the pre-vote debt service estimates of the project and ultimately the fiscal impact to taxpayers. The positive results will provide the district with a strengthened financial position now and in the future.”
Superintendent Search Update
The Board of Education is in the midst of a search for the district’s next superintendent, who will take the position of ICC’s top leader on or before July 1, 2023. The next superintendent will replace Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow, who announced her retirement in October.
In December, the Board issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a consultant to help with the superintendent search. The board met with several candidates and chose Questar III BOCES. Questar III offers superintendent search consulting at no cost to its component districts, which includes ICC.
The Board and Questar have met for workshops and collectively developed a Community Online Survey, which was released to the public in January, and will remain open until end of the business day on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
Next, the Board is scheduled to meet Monday, Feb. 6, with Questar III to review survey results and finalize the job posting, which is scheduled for release on or around Feb. 8.
Following steps will include recruiting candidates, creating stakeholder committees, and ultimately working through interviews and the selection of the district’s next top leader.
Responsibility in Action
As the third quarter of the school year begins, our students and staff will unite under the character trait of responsibility. Every day, responsibility is a character trait woven deep into everything we do here at ICC. It means being responsible for ourselves and our wellbeing, but also for our fellow Riders and the residents of our entire community.
At the Middle School, fifth-grader Amilia Dalaudiere noticed during her lunch period the volume of food being thrown away, and she realized she needed to take action.
“I was so frustrated because there are people who don’t have any food,” Amilia said.
Amilia discussed what she had observed and her desire to do something with two friends, Erin Finn and Keira Drummond. The trio came up with the idea for a daily food collection during their lunch. They started collecting non-perishable foods in mid-January, with assistance from the Middle School cafeteria staff and building administrators.
“It makes me feel good that we are helping people,” Erin said. “It allows me to sleep better at night.”
Keira said another important reason for the program is to fight pollution.
During a recent lunch period, students stopped by the collection bin to donate their bags of chips, unopened water bottles and more. So far, they are in the collection phase. Next, they plan to start donating to local organizations, such as area homeless shelters.
Around the same time, employees at Ginsberg’s Foods in Hudson finished a winter clothing drive for ICC students across the district. Ginsberg’s Melissa Common had reached out to our staff to ask if they could do the clothing drive for our students in need.
“While Ginsberg’s Foods gives back to an assortment of charities across the Northeast in various ways, I wanted to find a way that we, as a company, could contribute to helping the next generation in our community, especially during the colder months,” said Melissa Common.
“Ginsberg's Foods VP of HR John Rutkey has strong ties with ICSHS and he, as well as the staff at the school, supported me in making this Winter Coat Drive happen. It makes me so happy to know that we can help satisfy a need in the community, and potentially take a burden off of a neighbor's plate by providing these clothing items.”
High School teacher Courtney Dobkins and Librarian Jennifer Two-Axe helped with the drive, reaching out to all the schools to assess our needs. Recently, Melissa Common and her colleague, Molly Sheppard, arrived at the High School, holding two enormous clear plastic bags, full of warm winter gear.
"We are so very appreciative of Ginsberg's for the many coats, hats, gloves, snow pants and boots,” Courtney Dobkins said.
“These items are requested each winter and having them on hand when the need arises is wonderful. The little kids will now have the winter gear to play in the snow and the older ones will have a warm coat for the cold days ahead.”
ICC’s Read for Ronald McDonald House raises $1000s
Every year, Rider students at the Primary and Middle Schools (K-6) participate in Read for Ronald McDonald, which raises money for families across the region who are dealing with serious childhood illnesses and injuries.
This school year, 42 of our students committed to tracking the time they spent reading for a month, as well as asking family and friends to sponsor their efforts. At the end of the month, they gathered their donations. The grand total: $4,586.
At the Primary School, 20 students raised $2,186, and at the Middle School, 22 students raised $2,400.
“We are so fortunate to be able to participate in this valuable fundraiser,” PS Principal Andrea Williams said. “While the children learn and explore different books, they are also helping to support those in need. This is a program that hits home for many of our staff members and we are always willing to support it!”
Five students from the Primary and Middle Schools were chosen by the building administrators to tour the Ronald McDonald House in Albany, due to their hard work during the annual fundraiser.
Budget Season is Here!
Together, our team of administrators and board members have started the district’s public and transparent process of crafting a budget for the next fiscal year, which includes a series of presentations at monthly board meetings, leading up to a vote in May.
“The budget development process is a highly-detailed, six-month timeline designed to provide multiple layers of stakeholder input, public transparency and fiscal responsibility, while meeting the educational needs of our students,” ICC Business Manager Michael Brennan said.
Since December, Michael Brennan has presented several times to members of the Board of Education and its Budget and Finance Committee at public meetings to start the initial discussions around the 2023-24 budget.
So far, these presentations have focused on the timeline and budget process, the rollover budget, cafeteria funding, bus purchasing and the non-instructional budget. Presentations in March and April will focus on the Instructional Budgets and Revenue. The presentations will continue into April, leading up to the Budget Hearing on May 2, 2023.
Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow and the Board of Education have also started internal meetings with the district’s full administrative team, including building principals and department directors, who solicit input from their staff to ensure feedback is received from all district employees.
“Creating a budget is a very collaborative process,” said Superintendent Guntlow. “All of our administrators and directors solicit input from their staff so we have as many voices represented as possible. By doing that, we ensure that we are doing a 360-degree view of the district’s programs, needs and areas where we can increase efficiency.”
At the Budget Hearing, the Board of Education will present the finalized proposed budget, which is divided into three components – a program component, a capital component, and an administrative component. District residents will also receive a newsletter in the mail detailing the budget and different aspects of the district’s instructional and non-instructional programming and offerings.
District residents will vote on the proposed budget on May 16, 2023. Polls are open 8 a.m. to p.m. in the High School Gymnasium.
Coming Next in February
- Regular Board of Education meeting – Feb. 7
- Early Dismissal K-12 – Feb. 8
- Mid-Winter Recess – Feb. 20-24