SCHROON LAKE-Voters here defeated the 2011-12 spending plan for the Schroon Lake Central School on May 17, according to Interim Superintendent Gerald Blair, sending the proposal back to the School Board of Education for a re-write.
In all, there were 190 yes and 269 no votes for the proposed budget, which totalled $7,352,379. That's an increase of $65,966 - 0.91 percent - from the current spending plan of $7,286,413.
School Board members were determined to keep the spending increase to a maximum of 1 percent. That meant cutting popular programs like cheerleading and junior varsity basketball.
In a move that upset Schroon Lake Teachers Association members, the School Board proposed major changes to personnel to help save money. They were planning on not filling three positions after retirements: a bus driver, a custodian and a secretary. They proposed cutting three positions by one day per week: an art teacher, the director of pupil personnel and an occupational therapist. and three positions were to be cut in half: the instrumental band teacher, the librarian, and the family and consumer sciences (home economics) teacher.
"We tried to cut back on programs and staff and not eliminate them," Blair said May 18, adding that they tried to share cutbacks in departments across the board.
Now it's time to look at the proposed cuts that many voters were against, according to Blair, and adjust cuts while trying to keep tax increases at a minimum.
The proposed tax levy for 2011-12 was $5,862,870. That's a $130,957 increase - 2.28 percent - from the present levy of $5,731,913.
Some people were not happy about cutting cheerleading, and "Music seemed to strike a chord that people were upset over," Blair said.
An unscientific exit poll that district residents Bob and Jane Claus conducted during the vote revealed that more people were against the budget because of program and staff cuts rather than the tax increase.
Of the 452 people who voted, 274 responded to the poll, according to Bob Claus. Of the respondents, 180 voted no and 93 voted yes (one person decided not to vote in the end). The "no" voters were asked why they made their decision. About 18 percent (33) said it was because the budget/taxes are too high. And about 76 percent (136) said it was because of the proposed staff and program reductions.
"That says to me that the community is very unhappy with the proposed staff cuts," Bob Claus said.
The School Board was expected to meet later in the week to discuss re-working the budget and sending it back to the voters by mid-June, according to Blair.
School board, bus vote
With 231 votes on May 17, Kimberly Bauer was elected to replace School Board Vice President Ellen Garland, who tallied 160 votes. This is a five-year term.
And the bus proposition passed 259-196. Residents decided to spend no more than $18,000 for a five-year lease on a 65-passenger school bus.