Trumansburg Central School District debates funds for pool

An architect’s rendering of what a pool at TCSD could look like.
An architect’s rendering of what a pool at TCSD could look like.
Photo provided by Trumansburg Central School District
Posted

At the May 21 school budget vote, Trumansburg Central School District (TCSD) residents voted to approve the proposition to establish a capital reserve fund for the construction and maintenance of a school pool.

Creating the fund allows for fundraising outside of the school and for a pool specifically. It does not raise taxes or take away from any programming, but it does allow the board to place unused funds at the end of a school year into that account. The fund has a $10 million cap, which is the projected cost of the project.

Superintendent Kimberly Bell said if there is a school year where they expect special education expenses to increase from the year before and those expenses never come, the unspent money becomes fund balance.

“We have to find a purpose for that one-time, unspent money,” Bell said. “It is then requested that the board of education vote to place the money in a reserve. … Each spring, if there is money left over and if we feel it would be an appropriate move, we would request money be added to the pool reserve if there was no other purpose for it.”

This initiative is supported by the four boards. TCSD, Trumansburg Community Recreation (TCR), the Village of Trumansburg, and the Town of Ulysses have been working cooperatively for several months to explore the idea of building a community pool, among other recreational projects.

The district has always wanted a pool, which could support educational programming within the school as well as community programming, such as swim classes and lifeguard training, and health and recreation programming.

TCR, in working with the community, determined the community is ready for a pool sooner than later and approached the school to assess interest in partnering in fundraising and for placement of the pool on school grounds. Board member Tara Masters said the board of the Trumansburg Community

Recreation organization is excited to establish a capital reserve for the pool and work with TCSD and the community to raise more funds.

“Now that the community has voted positively on this project, the hard work begins,” Masters said. “We look forward to one day soon having a community resource that will support recreation and healthy activities for people of all ages.”

Although the community voted for the creation of the fund, questions arose when the TCSD board was recently presented with a vote for the placement of $650,000 into the fund.

The $650,000 came from a 2% underspent budget, excess funds from unspent health insurance benefits, unspent teacher retirement, and special education, plus a $200,000 refund from the state for the soccer fields the district paid for previously.

At the recent BOE meeting, Bell explained why the excess funds cannot be used for such things as increasing salaries, funding programming, or expanding access to school meals. She said they cannot count on excess every year. It is one-time money, so if they raise salaries or allocate the money to programming, and they do not have a fund balance the next year, they have to find the money elsewhere.

At the end of the meeting, the board voted to transfer up to $350,000 from the general fund to the 2019 pool capital reserve and transfer $300,000 to the 2017 capital reserve, which will cap out the account.

Looking forward, the question becomes what happens to the money if not enough is raised for a pool. The fund has a 10-year lifespan. If, at the end of 10 years or at any time, it seems the community is not in support of the pool and fundraising falls flat, the BOE can bring options to the community to vote on what to do with the funds, based on the five-year building conditions survey.

This and all BOE meetings are live-streamed and recorded on YouTube.

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