WARRENSBURG-Voters across the region will be casting ballots Tuesday on whether to approve their local school districts' 2011-12 budgets, and their vote culminates a lengthy struggle for most area school boards in crafting financial plans.
The various boards of education had to devise ways to keep taxes low - because of voter sentiment and prevailing economic conditions - while dealing with ballooning costs for fuel, employee health care and retirement plans in the face of reduced State Aid.
In the Warrensburg Central School District, initial forecasts called for cuts to many programs and positions in order to keep any tax increase at a minimum - but most of the posts and programs were restored in the final budget draft.
The 2011-2012 proposed budget calls for total spending of $19,017,270, a sum of $7,987,307 to be raised by taxes, which is an increase of $150,896 over last year - despite a decrease in total expenditures of nearly $500,000. The tax levy is estimated to reflect a 1.9 percent increase over 2010-11.
The budget gap of $808,500 is to be drawn from fund balances and reserves. The budget calls for eliminating three instructional positions, reducing undergraduate sports contests, elimination of two cleaner positions, and bringing back some students in Special Education and Career education programs to the Warrensburg campus, from BOCES.
The vote is set for 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday May 17 at the High School, a new site for the polling.
An additional proposition calls for putting away $600,000 from unappropriated funds to a Capital Reserve Fund for the replacement of the high school roof and other vital facility improvements.
Also, two board member candidates, incumbent Linda Marcella Baker and challenger Terri Leguire, are up for election to a four-year term.
In the North Warren, Bolton and Lake George school districts, elections for school board seats are uncontested.
In the North Warren School District, voters will be casting ballots on a budget that calls for spending $1,383,967, a decrease of 1.13 percent over the prior year, but the anticipated tax levy increase is 2.27 percent.
In this plan, the school board postponed purchase of one school bus and cut two teaching and one staff position, while reducing one teaching post from full-time to part-time. $650,000 was drawn from fund balance to keep the tax increase down.
Voting is set for noon to 8 p.m. in the school lobby.
In the Lake George Central School District, the proposal is to spend $20.8 million, an increase of 4 percent, with the tax levy rising by 5.5 percent - figures that have prompted some citizens to call for spending cuts at budget hearings. The spending plan eliminates one elementary teaching position left vacant after a retirement. Two teacher assistants will also be cut.
The vote on the Lake George budget will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.Tuesday May 17 in the high school gymnasium.
In the Bolton Central School District, up for a vote is a 2011-12 budget that calls for $8,367,260 in appropriations, an increase of $33,138, or 0.4 percent. The proposed spending plan increases the tax levy by 0.32 percent, or $21,604.
In formulating the plan, the school board laid off one high school teacher, reduced expenses related to materials, supplies and equipment, and postponed the purchase of a school bus.
Expenditures were kept nearly level despite a State Aid cut of $39,000. Ciccarelli has credited the school board and other school administrators for ongoing financial planning that has minimized budget impact on local taxpayers, despite ever-rising expenses.
The voting in Bolton takes place from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 17 in the Bolton Central School gym lobby.