Ticonderoga Central School District voters have approved a 2013-14 budget that cuts employees and academic programs.
The budget was approved, 550-382, in balloting May 21.
The 2013-14 budget totals $18,514,628. That’s an increase of $664,805 — 3.73 percent — from the current spending plan of $17,849,823.
The 2013-14 tax levy is $10,706,316. That’s an increase of $389,584 — 3.78 percent — from the $10,316,732 raised by taxes in 2012-13. That meets the state-mandated tax cap.
“I am very pleased the community came out and supported the budget given the extremely difficult decisions that went into constructing it,” Superintendent John McDonald said. “I hope we can move forward in the next few months addressing our programmatic needs with the cuts we were forced to make. I commend the school board for its hard work.”
Facing a $540,000 budget gap, the Ticonderoga Central School board of education was forced to make tough decisions when preparing the budget. The spending plan calls for the elimination of 11.6 full-time equivalent jobs and cuts in academic programs.
“We’ll maintain everything required for an advanced Regents diploma,” McDonald said. “We’ll have to cut some electives, cut some college-level classes, make cuts in music and art.”
To reach the state-mandated tax cap the budget cuts full-time math, science, English and teacher aide positions. It also cuts 4.5 teaching assistant jobs. Half-time computer aide, English and physical education positions are eliminated. It reduces full-time English and foreign language jobs to half time. Other positions in guidance, home and careers, music, art, business, technology, English and math are cut by 20 percent as is a social worker job.
In all, 25 employees are being cut to some degree.
Also eliminated is a librarian position. That person is retiring and will not be replaced.
Five years ago Ticonderoga Central School had 120 teachers. Today there are 100. Next year there will be 88.5. McDonald pointed out that’s more than a 25 percent reduction in teaching staff. During that same period enrollment has declined 15 percent.
The budget also calls for $15,000 to be cut from athletics and extracurricular programs. McDonald said specific cuts will be determined after the district does an analysis of participation and competitive opportunities.
Limits placed on the district by the state tax cap allow a local tax levy of $10,706,316. That’s an increase of $389,584 from the present tax levy. But while Ti is limited to a $389,584 tax increase, costs out of the district’s control have soared. Retirement costs for district employees are up $460,000 and employee health insurance is up $150,000 in 2013-14. Also expected to increase are fuel, heating, utility and other costs.
Also, after three years of concessions, Ticonderoga teachers will return to their contractual salary schedule and receive a 2.8 percent pay increase.
Non-instructional workers, who also made concessions last year, will get 3 percent pay increases in 2013-14.
Voters also approved a separate proposition to purchase a bus at a cost not to exceed $93,843. That vote was 458-431.
Elected to the school board were M. Mark Russell, Robert Palandrani Jr. and Tracey Cross-Baker. Russell had 620 votes, Palandrani 563 and Cross-Baker 497. Incumbent R. William Grinnell got 478 vote and will not return to office.