Ocean City Board of Education presents a school budget that meets the needs of the students with a slight savings for the 2020-21 school year, officials say. By MADDY VITALEThe Ocean City Board of Education introduced a school budget for the 2020-21 school year that keeps school taxes stable.The total budget is $41,555,147, down from $41.6 million last year. The bulk of the funding for the spending plan will come from $23.8 million in local tax revenue, School Business Administrator Timothy Kelley explained Monday.Kelley presented the proposed budget during the March 18 Board of Education meeting. He called it a solid budget.The owner of a home assessed at $500,000 will pay roughly $1,080 in local school taxes for the year, about the same as last year’s figure.Homeowners will see a decrease in their school tax bills of $5 for the year under the new budget.Some of the areas Kelley looks at when creating a budget include the district’s strategic plan, classroom needs, operational needs and state-mandated requirements and programs, he noted.“We try to present a budget that is responsible and also meets the district’s and the students’ needs,” Kelley said.He explained how there were some savings in this year’s preliminary budget.“This past year the school district paid off some bonds that were issued for the Intermediate School improvements, so that decreased the amount for debt service,” Kelley said.Timothy Kelley, school business administrator, has presented a budget that does not have a tax increase for the fifth year in a row.With the proposed school budget, the projected tax rate is 0.215 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, down from 0.216 in the 2019 budget.Ocean City’s tax base has gone up by $107 million this year, giving the city nearly $12 billion in tax ratables, which helped the district present a budget without an increase in the school tax rate.While there is a healthy ratable base in the community, the district continues to wrestle with declining enrollment.There are 2,150 students currently, which includes about 193 students from the School Choice Program.The program allows students from outside of Ocean City to attend the school district and for the 2020-21 school year it will contribute $2.6 million to the overall budget.“Every year we face declining enrollment and that means less revenue coming in from sending districts. That being said, the overall tax rate is the same tax rate that was presented to the voters back in 2013,” School Board President Joseph Clark said in an interview.Clark commended Kelley for presenting another school budget that is prudent, while still providing the many services Ocean City students and families come to expect.“Tim has done an amazing job. He looks at five to 10 years into the future. He looks at what the other districts are doing,” Clark said.He continued, “We are very blessed that we are in a community that is maintaining a steady ratable increase and our property taxes are remaining steady. We are being very prudent with expenditures.”Clark said one of the ways that the district has made sure to hold down expenses is by reducing the budgets by 5 percent in all three schools — the high school, intermediate school and primary school.“What has helped us sustain the programs is the steady increase in the ratables,” Clark added. “We live under the 2 percent cap and we are giving back to the taxpayer.”A public hearing on the proposed budget and a final vote by the board are scheduled at the Board of Education meeting on April 29 at 7 p.m.However, that date could change amid the COVID-19 outbreak, with schools closed until further notice.
Your daily outdoor news bulletin for August 8th, the day President Richard Nixon announced he would resign, proving that not even the President of the United States is above breaking the law, lying about it, resigning to avoid impeachment, and getting pardoned by the next guy:Blue Ridge Parkway Gets New SuperintendentThe Blue Ridge Parkway is having some trouble. A giant crack forced the closure of a large portion of the byway outside Asheville, cuts have forced the BRP to cut back it’s already low budget for basic upkeep, and there is a 10-year, $450 million deferred maintenance backlog to deal with. Well, now all those problems have new shoulders to rest on, albeit capable ones. Mark Woods was named the new Blue Ridge Parkway superintendent Wednesday, replacing Phil Francis, who retired in April – Monika Mayr had acted as interim superintendent during the gap. The 53-year-old Woods is a 33-year veteran of the National Park Service, having worked at several parks across the South. His most recent gig was superintendent of Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, and the similarities between the two entities should set him up nicely to succeed. Both span multiple states (Cumberland is known as the Gateway to the West and incorporates Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee), which will also help his relationship with gateway communities with different needs. He is also a native of South Carolina, and has worked mainly in the South as previously mentioned, so there shouldn’t be any complaints about a “Yankee coming down here and messin’ with how we do things our way, blah, blah, etc.” Woods certainly has his work cut out for him, but with a capable staff, not to mention his $125K salary, he should be able to lead the BRP into an uncertain future.More can be found at the Citizen-Times.Virginia Snakehead Sets World RecordBack in June, we told you about Virginia native Caleb Newton and the 17 pound northern snakehead fish he caught out of the tidal Potomac River in Stafford. If you have forgotten about Newton, or the snakehead, let me refresh your memory: “Caleb Newton held the rod while Phil Wilcox held the net as they landed the possible world recored Northern Snakehead out of Aquia Creek in Stafford, Virginia Saturday. The (ugly-as-sin) fish weighed in at 17.6 pounds, topping the previous record – caught in Japan in 2004 – by a couple of ounces. The northern snake head is, in a word, gross: they can live for days out of the water, can move on land, excrete mucus, smell terrible, have sharp teeth, are as hard to kill as the Terminator (T-850, not the T-1000) and are just plain ugly. They are also an invasive species, and if caught in Virginia are required by law to be, well, terminated. ” Well, according to the Free Lance-Star, word has come back from the International Game Fish Association confirming that the fish is a world record. Newton is aiming to turn his new-found semi-fishing fame into an endorsement deal, because, why not?Noteworthy National Outdoor NewsSeveral national stories of note have come out in the past few days.First, is this cool article on the Daily Beast examining the science and studies currently being conducted on why mosquitos target some people and not others. This obviously has huge implications for us in the South, and could lead to better protection from the pests in the future, including the spread of diseases like dengue fever and malaria. LINKHere is an audio story from NPR about something that has become a hot topic in the East, although this piece concentrates on the West: Ski resorts catering to mountain bikers in the summer in an attempt to find a four season revenue stream. LINKHere is another NPR story about sleep patterns and how a week of camping can reset your internal clock to help you sleep better at night. LINKAnd here is some sad news from the digital media file: Contour has mysteriously and unexpectedly closed up shop. Employees arrived on a typical work day to locked doors and a note saying they were no longer employed by the action video camera company. Contour has positioned itself over the last few years as the most serious contender to GoPro in the market of action POV cameras, so the sudden closing is a surprise. LINK