CLINTONVILLE - Even with 19 positions up for elimination, the AuSable Valley School District is faced with a budget that could raise the tax levy 6.87 percent in 2011-12.
"We have been hit harder than most anyone in this region, if not the most," school superintendent Paul Savage said at the April 13 meeting of the AVCS school board where the 2011-12 budget was adopted for vote. "We have worked hard to keep the balance between programs and services and the communities ability to afford them."
Within the spending plan, the administration cut $2,922,930, a drop of 2.71 percent to the operational budget.
Savage said that the cut was helped in part by a "true" wage freeze by the Teacher's Association.
"This is a true pay freeze that also includes freezes to the step increases," Savage said. "This was something that the teachers did to save as many jobs as they could and they did it to help our school and our programs. As far as I know, this is the only teacher's organization that has done this (the Saranac School District teacher's also announced a similar pay freeze the same day)."
Members of the administration also took pay freezes, but eventually it came down to the task of making position cuts.
"We have done everything that we can every single day to deal with this," Savage said. "
Overall, 40 other areas saw a reduction or elimination in funding.
A total of 10.8 teaching positions were cut, including a guidance position and one position that was vacated through attrition. One administrative position, 2.4 teaching assistant positions and 4.8 non-instructional positions (two by attrition) were also eliminated, bringing the total to 18.8 position that were cut from the budget under the budget adopted by the school board.
"We understand that this is not your typical increase," Savage said about the 6.87 percent expected jump in the tax levy. "We did all that we could to get this number to where it is, and we are not going to stop."
Overall, the budget adopted by the board shows a spending increase of 5.14 percent, but Savage said that is due in part to the state-funded EXCELL Capital Project.
"That is funded by state aid," Savage said. "It has to be shown in the budget, but it is offset by the state aid. What we want to stress is that we made a significant cut in the operational budget."
The public hearing on the adopted 2011-12 spending plan is set for Monday, May 9, at 6:30 p.m. in the Middle/High School auditorium.
The budget and school board vote will take place on Tuesday, May 17.