CROWN POINT - The proposed 2010-11 Crown Point Central School District budget is identical to the current spending plan, although taxes are expected to increase.
The tax hike is the result of a $237,000 loss in state aid and increased expenses.
"Making difficult decisions to meet the current contingent budget cap of 0 percent was the goal so that the taxpayer burden was as small as possible," Superintendent Shari Brannock said.
The proposed 2010-11 budget totals $6,279,131, exactly the same as the present spending plan.
The amount to the raised by taxes in the proposed budget is $1,463,755, a 3.81 percent increase from the current tax levy.
Taxpayers will vote on the budget May 18 noon to 1:30 p.m. in the school foyer and 1:30-8 p.m. in the cafeteria.
Voters will also select three school board members. Seeking seats are incumbents Mitch St. Pierre and Julie Budwick along with Kathy DebroBander.
A key to holding the line in the budget was benefit concessions by teachers. In a new contract the teachers, who took no pay increase this past year, will get raises of 2.95, 3.95 and 4.95 percent during the next years while agreeing to pay more for health insurance.
"Given the current economic climate those involved wanted to ensure a high-quality education system for students as the No. 1 priority," Brannock said. "In doing so CPTA members agreed to move to a higher deductible health insurance plan during their next contract.
"Our school community and taxpayers are thankful to our teachers for their willingness to contribute personally and collectively to the future of our school and its students," she said.
Cathy Russell, president of the CPTA, said teachers did what was best for the school and its students.
"I'm proud of our teachers," Russell said. "Last year we had to give back money. This year when the school administration asked for more help we were happy to do our part."
The health insurance concession will save the district more than $60,000 a year, Brannock said.
Non-instructional employees will get 4 percent raises in the new budget.
While the teacher concession helped, it wasn't enough to close the budget deficit. As a result 5 1/2 positions have been cut, the GED program has been eliminated, high school special education services have been slashed, a bus purchase has been postponed and material and supplies purchases have been limited.
The staff cuts include two teaching assistants and a cleaner. Special education and social students positions have been reduced to half time, a science job has been cut by a third and Spanish and guidance positions have been reduced by a fifth.
Principal Agatha Mace is retiring, Brannock noted, and it's uncertain how that post will be filled. In any event, there will be a savings to the district.
School office hours will also be cut to save money.
Brannock noted the proposed budget does not cut any student programs.
"Crown Point Central School is fortunate that under the proposed 2010-11 budget students will have similar academic programs, college electives, athletics and extra-curricular activities," she said. "Our TEAM theme prevails - Together Everyone Achieves More.
"Our goal was to have as little impact on students as possible; they won't be feeling the affects of these changes," Brannock said. "We're still able to do more with less rather than less with less."
Crown Point has 280 students, down from a peak enrollment of 415 two decades ago.
PORT HENRY - The proposed 2010-11 Moriah Central School budget holds the line on taxes.
That's the good news. The bad news is the spending plan includes major cuts in staff. The proposed budget calls for the elimination of nine positions, including both the high school and elementary school principals.
"We feel comfortable that we can still provide a high-quality education for our students," Superintendent Bill Larrow said. "Our class sizes will be slightly larger, but still manageable. We'll be re-organizing our administration, though that's still a work in progress."
Acknowledging difficult economic conditions, Larrow said it was a difficult budget to prepare.
"Our board really took into consideration the economic hardships our community is facing and worked to have no increase in taxes," he said. "Individual families have to do more with less. We have to take the same approach."
The proposed 2010-11 budget totals $13,948,101. That's a .05 percent decrease from the current budget of $13,954,939.
The amount to be raised by taxes in the proposed spending plan is $3,554,952. That's exactly the same amount raised in the current budget.
Voting on the proposed budget will be Tuesday, May 18, 1-8 p.m. in the school's main lobby.
District residents will also be asked to vote on the purchase of a bus to cost $96,282. That purchase is eligible for 90 percent state reimbursement.
Voters will also elect three members to the board of education. Running are Kathryn M. Lacey, Charles French, Benjamin Winters and Rose Rice.
There will also be a spaghetti dinner from 4-7:30 sponsored by Moriah teachers, with all proceeds going to their scholarship fund. As in the past, there will also be an art exhibit that day.
Expecting a state aid cut of $461,000 and increasing contractual obligations, the school board started the budget process facing a $917,000 deficit.
The proposed budget eliminates three teaching positions, three teaching assistants and a buildings and grounds position along with the two principals.
Those nine job cuts save the district about $400,000, Larrow said.
A fund balance of $453,000 will be applied to the 2010-11 spending plan to close the deficit gap.
The board also cut junior varsity and varsity football cheerleading, modified B boys and girls basketball, two class advisers and an activity adviser from the proposed budget.
"There were tough decisions that had to be made," Larrow said. "Overall, it's a very tough budget.
"Our staff has been great," he added. "They realize the position the district is in. They do so much without being asked. They excel with what they have."
Larrow credited Erin Gilbo, district business manager, for her work on the budget.
Unlike many schools, enrollment at Moriah is growing. Next academic year it will have more than 800 students, forcing the school to add an extra section for kindergarten.
"We're looking at reducing everything we can and our enrollment continues to grow," Larrow said. "We have more students and fewer financial resources."
The proposed budget does include some spending increases. Health insurance for employees is up 6 percent and non-instructional employees will get a 3.95 percent pay raise next year. The teacher contract expires June 30 and the negotiations will determine their pay in 2010-11.
School administrators will get no pay increases in 2010-11.
Larrow cautioned future budget may require even tougher decisions, especially since little help is expected from the state.
"I'm afraid we're heading to a point were all we can offer are the minimum requirements for graduation," he said. "Eventually, every elective, every college-level course will be gone.
"We live in a small community that doesn't provide a lot of opportunities for kids," he continued. "You start taking away the arts and sports programs and you're really impacting the lives of students. It's a shame to make all these cuts."
PUTNAM - The proposed 2010-11 Putnam Central School District budget calls for a decrease in spending, despite cuts to state aid.
"We have been planning in the past few years for this inevitable situation of state aid cuts," Superintendent Matt Boucher said. "We have tried to limit adding any programs or new costs to the spending plan. It is our opinion that next year will be even more difficult."
The proposed budget totals $2,152,427. That's a 0.06 decease from the current spending plan of $2,153,732.
The amount to be raised by taxes in the proposed budget is $1,630,017. That's a 1.61 percent increase from the current tax levy of $1,604,125.
Voting on the budget will be Tuesday, May 18, 1-8 p.m. in the school gym.
The tax increase is attributed to a 10 percent cut in state aid for next academic year.
"We were able to recover (from the aid reduction) due to the savings in health insurance negotiated last year, a new teacher contract that the board and teachers negotiated that included salary increases of 1.2 percent for three years, and we used some fund balance to arrive at the 1.61 percent levy increase," Boucher said.
"We have purchased all of our technology including SMART boards in all rooms, laptop carts and a mobile distance learning lab through grants, which at least has removed most of the local share as grants do; and helped us to save money in that area," he said.
The proposed budget included no major cuts or new programs, Boucher pointed out.
Voters will also elect a member to the Putnam board of education May 18.
Incumbent Jodie Bruce is running unopposed for a 5 year term.
SCHROON LAKE - The state's fiscal woes are being felt in Schroon Lake.
Anticipating no increase in state aid, the proposed 2010-11 Schroon Lake Central School District budget calls for a 5.5 percent increase in taxes.
Much of that increase, 4.3 percent, can be attributed to an on-going building project at the school.
The proposed budget totals $7,447,215. That's a 1.3 percent hike from the current spending plan of $7,349,590.
The proposed amount to be raised by taxes is $5,892,715. That's an increase of 5.5 percent from the present tax levy of $5,585,090.
Voters will have their say on the proposed spending plan Tuesday, May 18, noon to 8 p.m. in the school lobby.
Also on the ballot will be a proposition to purchase a bus at a cost of $95,000 or less and seat on the school board. Peter Veverka is running unopposed for the seat being vacated by Linda Lowe.
Schroon Lake officials have held the line on spending in the proposed budget. Operating costs for 2010-11 are anticipated to increase by $53,058, 0.4 percent.
To keep spending at that level Schroon Lake teachers agreed to a one-year contract calling for no pay increase in 2010-11.
"I believe the teachers association, in combination with the board of education, resolved a one-year contract that held the students and their academia and programs as a priority," said Mary Gereau, Schroon Lake Teachers Association president. "The concessions that the teachers association made allowed for the continuation of excellence at Schroon Lake Central School. We are fortunate to work in a district where the ideals of education are supported by the superintendent, board of education and the community at large."
The proposed budget also cuts $34,721 from custodian services, eliminates the $14,000 summer school program, saves $5,000 by merging bus runs, cuts $3,000 from instructional development and saves $3,000 by limiting the annual school trip to New York City to every-other year.
The proposed budget maintains all student programs and staff positions.
The major increase in the proposed 2010-11 budget is a $44,567 increase in the building project, the first major building project at the school in nearly 50 years.
The project will expand and renovate the existing school building.
Technically, the work is two projects - a $13.4 million upgrade of the existing school building and a separate $1.3 million conversion of the current combination gym/auditorium into an auditorium.
Voters approved both measures June 28, 2006.
The first proposition totals $13,398,159.
It calls for repairs to the school's exterior, replacement of single-pane windows and doors installed in the 1960s, installation of a state-mandated storm water basin, installation of mandated fire doors, installation of safety systems, asbestos and lead containment, installation of a state-mandated elevator for handicap accessibility, electrical upgrades, an energy efficiency system, replacement of boilers and internet accessibility.
The proposition also calls for construction of five new classrooms for pre-kindergarten, elementary science, special education, speech and occupational and physical therapy as well as a gymnasium and locker rooms. Current classrooms will be refurbished.
The second proposition totals $1,329,742.
It calls for the current combination gym/auditorium to be converted into an auditorium with additional permanent seating, improved lighting, improved sound system and new stage rigging and curtains.
The projects are eligible for 24.5 percent state aid.
Schroon Lake School was constructed in 1935. There was an addition built in 1962 and in 1965 temporary classrooms were placed at the rear of the school - those "tin" classrooms are still in use.
Schroon voters rejected a proposed $3.1 million project in 1989; rejected a $1 million boiler replacement project in 1990; had a 1992 building proposal die before going to vote; and rejected an $18.2 million project in 2005.
TICONDEROGA - Ticonderoga Central School District taxpayers will feel the impact of a building project this year.
The proposed 2010-11 budget totals $18,353,991. That's a 7.21 percent increase from the current spending plan of $17,119,120.
Much of that increase - 6 percent - can be attributed to the on-going $23.8 million building and renovation project approved by voters in 2007. The amount to be raised by taxes in the proposed budget is $9,740,039. That's a 6.5 percent increase from the current tax levy of $9,145,204. The building project accounts for 3 percent of that increase.
Voting on the budget will be Tuesday, May 18, noon to 8 p.m. at Ticonderoga High School and the Hague Community Building.
Residents will elect three members to the board of education at that time. Running are incumbents Robert Palandrani Jr. and M. Mark Russell along with Bruce Clark and R. William Grinnell.
Superintendent John McDonald said this budget has been difficult to prepare.
"It gets harder every year," he said. "There's simply less money available and we still have schools to operate."
The district is scheduled to receive a $435,000 cut in state aid in 2010-11 and debt service on the building project increases by $290,418. That means the district faced a $725,418 deficit without addressing any other increased costs.
To help close that budget gap, the Ti school board has cut 7.5 positions - 5 percent of its teaching staff, consolidated bus routes, eliminated out-of-district conferences, cut department chairmanships, slashed the music enrichment program and cut the high school student mentoring program.
The staff cuts - two elementary teachers, two middle school teachers, a high school teacher, an administrator, a bus driver and a teacher aide - will save the district $432,000.
The other cuts total $149,249.
Also helping cut costs is a decision by Ti teachers to switch health insurance programs, which will save the district $150,000 a year.
Increases in the proposed budget include 2 percent net pay hikes for teachers and 2 percent increases for administrators. Non-instructional employees are now in contract negotiations.
McDonald is hopeful Ticonderoga may get more state aid than projected once a state budget is adopted.
He's also hopeful austerity plans in place will result in the district closing the current budget year with a surplus.
"We get restoration of state aid if the fund balance is better than expected and we'll apply that money to the tax levy," McDonald said. "We're hoping for the best, while preparing for the worst."
Ticonderoga has 890 students.