School districts across the state are preparing for their annual budget votes Tuesday, May 17. Facing cuts in state aid and an increase in the overall cost of doing business, each district brought forth proposed budget that were ultimately approved for this Tuesday's vote.
Here's a breakdown of what is being proposed in the North Countryman readership area:
Beekmantown Central School District
The proposed 2011-12 annual budget for the Beekmantown Central School District is $38,721,107, a 3.37 increase over last year's budget of $37,458,259. The budget being put before voters utilizes $3.5 million in undesignated fund balance to offset expenditures and will see an increase in the tax levy - the amount to be raised by taxes - over the current amount by $2 million. The budget also results in an increase in the tax rate by $1.38 per $1,000 of assessed property value, with the new proposed rate being $16.84 per thousand.
Superintendent Scott A. Amo said the budget originally called for the elimination of six elementary school level teachers, one foreign language teacher, one science teacher, and one social studies teacher. However, funding for the positions was restored after qualifying employees accepted an early retirement incentive offered by the district made possible through funding from the federal government.
Other positions already reduced or still planned to reduce included: two typists, two social workers, one account clerk typist, one part-time computer application teacher, one computer resource teacher, one part-time school psychologist, one part-time teacher aide, one part-time universal pre-kindergarten teacher, and the director of curriculum and instruction. The position of computer lab assistant that equates to three and a half full-time positions are also proposed to be eliminated.
Chazy Central Rural School
The Chazy Central Rural School District has proposed a $9,911,907 budget for the coming school year - a $921 increase over last year's overall budget equal to a 0.01 percent climb. The budget calls for a 2.68 percent increase in the tax levy, with an estimated tax rate of $18.33 per $1,000 of assessed property value - a 48 cent per $1,000 increase over last year.
An increase in the tax levy - the amount to be raised by taxes - over the current amount by $2 million. The budget also results in an increase in the tax rate by $1.38 per $1,000 of assessed property value, with the new rate being $16.84 per thousand.
Superintendent John Fairchild said a cut in state aid amounted to approximately $880,000, leading the board of education to look for ways to offset the lack of revenue.
"Our first goal was to find a way to maintain student programs with minimal impact on staffing," stated Fairchild. "Through a careful review of the prior budget, we identified savings that amounted to over $300,000 that would not affect staff or programs."
The board decided to increase the amount of unappropriated fund balance to be used in the budget to $950,000. In addition, approximately $88,000 of state aid cut was reinstated.
"These actions, combined with the Chazy Teachers Association and all administration agreeing to a pay freeze, allowed us to meet our first goal," Fairchild said. "Ongoing negotiations with Civil Service Employee Association members may lead to additional savings for next year."
"Without the concessions from the Chazy Teachers Association up to 17 faculty members could have been reduced by one class each," added Fairchild. "This would be the equivalent of three full-time positions. The reduction in courses taught was proposed as a way to reduce costs more equally and to keep program offerings close to this year's offerings."
No student programs were reduced and no faculty positions were reduced due to the budget. A full time and a part time position that were grant funded for this year were eliminated.
"As a new superintendent, I was aware that the economic climate in our nation and state would make developing a budget a considerable challenge," Fairchild stated. "I just wasn't aware of how difficult it actually would be this year."
The ballot will also include a proposition for the district to disburse $35,000 to the Chazy Public Library in annual support of its programming.
Northern Adirondack Central School
The proposed 2011-12 annual budget for the Northern Adirondack Central School District is $18,266,725, a 0.06 percent increase over last year's budget of $18,277,852. The budget will result in no increase to the tax levy and a 2 cent reduction in the proposed tax rate, or $10.70 per $1,000 of assessed property value. In addition, there will be no reduction in staffing or programs, according to superintendent Laura J. Marlow.
Though facing "tough economic times," Marlow said the district worked hard to maintain a budget that would continue to provide "a quality education for the children of our school district."
The 2011-12 budget reflects "months of cost analysis, planning and careful deliberations," Marlow said. However, the district was able to offset a reduction in state aid by several methods, including reducing supplies and materials, eliminating new equipment purchases, more steps toward energy conservation and other cost containment measures.
"Despite one of the lowest budget to budget increases, the budget sustains our academic programs, preserves class sizes, affirms our commitment to health and safety, and accommodates the education of students with disabilities," Marlow said. "This year's budget is responsible to taxpayers and responsive to the needs of our children."
Propositions on the ballot include the purchase of three new buses not to exceed $311,466, and one that would change the election of board of education members to an at-large system. Currently, a board candidate must specify the seat for which they are running.
Northeastern Clinton Central School
The Northeastern Clinton Central School District will also maintain an annual budget with no increase in taxes for third year in a row. Though the proposed 2011-12 budget amounts to $28,499,357 - a 2.5-percent increase over the last year - district officials utilized reserve funding to offset increases in expenses such as contributions to the teacher and employee retirement systems, health insurance and salaries.
The budget will result in the loss of one teacher aide position.
"Each line of the budget has been carefully scrutinized for the past few years with many adjustments that have not harmed instruction," stated superintendent Peter J. Turner. "This is a responsible budget that keeps the tax rate stable for another year with no increase in the tax levy. Next year will be a more challenging year when federal funds are gone."
Propositions on the ballot include the purchase four new buses at a cost not to exceed $107,250 each, or a grand total of $429,000, and one that would change the election of board of education members to an at large system.
Saranac Central School
The Saranac Central School District will offer voters a $31,455,381 budget, which equals a 0.87 increase over last year's budget of $31,726,903. The school district was facing a nearly $4 million budget deficit, with potentially 14 teaching positions recommended for elimination or reduction. However, the Saranac Teachers Association made concessions in contracts that amounted to more than $500,000, according to superintendent Kenneth O. Cringle.
The result, said Cringle, is a budget that bears a 3.37 percent increase in the tax levy from $11,068,681 to $11,441,401. Though the tax rate hasn't been finalized, information provided by the district shows a person with a home valued at $100,000 could expect to pay a tax bill of $1,886, which amounts to $62 more than last year.
Positions cut include one part-time building maintenance employee and one full-time auto mechanic, and reductions include taking a district office position to part-time and reducing a typist position to 11 months. Other cuts include the purchase of a new bus, winter junior varsity cheerleading and Modified B basketball and the purchases of a new and soccer uniforms and a scoreboard for the athletic department.
Other reductions include reducing the amount of supplies purchased for the district and other miscellaneous reimbursements.
"I am relieved and pleased that the district is able to maintain existing programs and services for the students through 2011-2012," Cringle said. "The teachers, administrators and supervisors contributions were critical in making this happen. I remain concerned about meeting the needs of our students beyond 2012 due to our struggling economy and the continued decline in state and federal revenues."