Facing a $540,000 budget gap, the Ticonderoga Central School board of education has identified three possible options to keep the 2013-14 spending plan within the state tax cap. All the options include cutting school sports programs and non-mandated classes such as art and music. Each also calls for personnel cuts.
Facing a $540,000 budget gap, the Ticonderoga Central School board of education has identified three possible options to keep the 2013-14 spending plan within the state tax cap.
All the options include cutting school sports programs and non-mandated classes such as art and music. Each also calls for personnel cuts.
The option the board ultimately adopts and presents to voters next month will be determined after taxpayers express their opinions during public hearings Tuesday, April 16, at 7 p.m. at the Hague Community Center and Thursday, April 25, at 7 p.m. at the Ticonderoga High School cafeteria.
“We want to hear what taxpayers think,” John McDonald, school superintendent, said. “Each option gets us to the tax cap. It’s a question of what option people prefer.”
The proposed 2013-14 budget to be presented to voters May 21 for approval is basically set. Limits placed on the district by the state tax cap allow a total budget of $18,606,817 with a local tax levy of $10,706,316. That’s an increase of $389,000 from the present tax levy.
But while Ti is limited to a $389,000 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.
To reach the state tax cap, the school board has eliminated custodial summer workers, decided not to hire a new high principal, eliminated a librarian, cut consultants, phased out the high school choral director position, made insurance adjustments and decided to participate in the state’s pension reform program. Those changes save the district $322,815.
That still leaves a $540,000 budget gap that will be closed by one of three options. The options include:
—Scenario #1 eliminates all athletic programs, cuts all extracurricular activities, cuts some non-mandated academic programs and eliminates 11 full-time equivalent positions;
—Scenario #2 offers only “lifetime” sports cross country, track, bowling and golf, cuts most extracurricular activities, reduces non-mandated academic programs and eliminates 14 full-time equivalent positions.
—Scenario #3 retains the present varsity and modified sports programs, but cuts all junior varsity teams, cuts some extracurricular activities, reduces non-mandated academic programs and eliminates 15 full-time equivalent positions.
McDonald doesn’t believe Ticonderoga residents want Scenario #1, calling it the “least likely” proposal to have taxpayer support. Athletic and extracurricular programs are important to the community, he said, although they cost about $300,000 a year.
“I hope people will attend the public hearings and voice their feelings,” McDonald said. “We developed three scenarios so people could have a say in the budget proposal.”
After hearing from taxpayers the Ti school board will consider the three options and select one to be included in the final budget proposal. That spending plan will then go voters May 21.
Should voters reject Ticonderoga’s proposed budget May 21 the district can resubmit it for another vote. If the plan is defeated again, the district must go to a contingency budget.
“A contingency budget really scares me,” McDonald said. “It would be devastating to our school.”
State regulations require a no tax increase in a contingency budget. That would mean an addition $389,854 in budget cuts, no athletic or extracurricular programs and the elimination of 24 full-time equivalent jobs.