OLEAN — The Olean City School board of education approved and adopted a general fund budget of $43,185,450 for the 2021 school year that will include a 0% tax increase.

At Tuesday’s Zoom meeting for trustees, necessitated by the pandemic, it was noted the proposed budget and election ballots will be sent to registered district voters in Olean as absentee ballots. The ballots must be returned and received by 5 p.m. June 9 by the school district in order to be counted as a vote. Those received after this time frame will not be counted regardless of their postmark date.

District business administrator Jenny Bilotta said a budget hearing for the public will be conducted at 6 p.m. June 1 through a platform such as Zoom, but the district continues to work out details that will enable the community to ask questions and provide input during the gathering.

In other matters, Superintendent Rick Moore said the last day of school for the year is June 15 for students and June 17 for teachers.

“The reason for that is (teachers) worked through the week break and they also worked on Good Friday and they’ll work this Friday which was set to be a day off,” Moore explained. “We just counted 180 days for students and 186 contractual days for teachers, so it worked out to that date.”

In addition, he said school lunches will continue to be provided to children in the school district either through June 17 or June 26. He noted summer school sessions will also be held remotely.

“We are not getting real clear direction from state education or the government with New York state,” he added. “We’re also working with the county and they haven’t received any direction from state government.”

Moore said he is pressing for information to provide to the community, as there are families dependent on the breakfast and lunches served every weekday to 900 students who have participated in the food distribution program.

In commenting on building and grounds matters, board member Janine Fodor suggested the district begin the planning process in reopening the schools, when that is permitted in the upcoming school year.

“It seems like we really do need to have a planning process for reopening and it wouldn’t simply involve cleaning,” she said. “There are some pretty good (Center for Disease Control) guidelines … there’s a chapter on schools and how you reopen schools.”

Moore said he has reached out to the Safety and Health and Wellness committees to form a special committee to address the issue. The committee will begin meeting this month or next and will follow directives from the state education department.

“We’ll probably include parents in that and people from the community,” Moore said of the special committee. “We’ll be talking with the (Cattaraugus County) Health Department, also. It will be a huge task, without a doubt.”

In his report, Moore said the district didn’t receive “good news” from a meeting with county health officials regarding plans for seniors at the end of the school year.

“They put the nix on just about everything,” Moore said. “The message we got today is that schools are closed (such as football fields and campuses), but they’re willing to take our ideas to the state. They do not want groups of 10” gathering for events.

In personnel matters, the board approved retirements for Csobanka Woodworth, director of technology, effective Aug. 1; Denise Bush, teacher aide, effective June 29; Suzanne Kallenbach, elementary teacher, effective June 30; Jennifer Rhody-Marvin, music teacher, effective June 30; and Susan Grosso, teacher aide, effective June 26. Moore said all will be very much missed and the school district hopes to provide some special event for them in honor of their retirements.

Moore also noted earlier in the meeting the valedictorian for the senior class is Madelyn Hoffman and the salutatorian is Mackenzie Windus.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)