Press-Republican

March 4, 2013

BCSD examines budgetary factors

By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
Press-Republican

---- — BEEKMANTOWN — Though the governor’s budget shows a state-aid increase of about 3 percent for Beekmantown Central School District next school year, that figure is still 11.5 percent less than in 2008-09.

“Some of how the district has absorbed that and made up for it was to spend down the excess fund balance that was on the books back in 2008-09,” School Business Executive Mary LaValley Blaine told the School Board at a recent special meeting held to go over that preliminary information on projected revenues and expenditures.

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget, she said, the district expects about $472,000 more in state aid for 2013-14.

For the upcoming budget year, the School Board has approved the allocation of $1,065,000 in fund balance. 

BCSD has not yet determined its state-mandated tax-levy limit, as it is awaiting further information about exclusions to the formula used to calculate that figure.

RISING COSTS

On the expenditures side, Blaine told the board, the district’s Teacher Retirement System contributions are projected to increase by about 4 percent in 2013-14, while Employee Retirement System contributions will rise around 2 percent. 

In addition, she said, Plan A health-insurance premiums are projected to rise 7 percent. 

Plan B premiums, which only cover three employees, aren’t expected to increase.

The district, Blaine said, is also estimating a 10 percent increase in general-property and liability insurance expenses in 2013-14.

IN-HOUSE SERVICES

Champlain Valley Educational Services costs are proposed to increase 2.3 percent; special-education services, 2.9 percent; and CV-TEC services, 3.9 percent. 

In addition, Blaine said, the cost of administrative and capital fees paid by the district to CVES is also expected to go up next school year. 

But Beekmantown Central Superintendent Scott Amo said the district has been spared some additional expenses because it has been providing some of those services internally in recent years. 

”The district taking control of some programs in-house has yielded significant savings in their own right,” he said. 

SEQUESTRATION

Blaine also noted that the district currently receives $1.1 million in grant money from the federal government to fund programs for students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and teacher and principal training and recruiting.

Some of that funding is at risk under federal sequestration, she said, though it was unclear how much funding would be eliminated.  

PAY, POSITIONS

How salaries will play into the school’s 2013-14 spending plan remained unknown as well, as three of the district’s unions will begin contract negotiations in the coming months.

The contracts of the Beekmantown teachers, support staff and support-staff supervisors all expire in June.  

Blaine also noted there may be opportunities for the district to eliminate some positions through attrition in 2013-14 or replace retirees at a lower rate of pay. 

So far, she said, about eight instructional and nine non-instructional staff have announced they will retire at the end of this school year.

Amo added that the district is collecting information about its bus ridership to see if any transportation costs could be reduced. Beekmantown is also involved in ongoing conversations with neighboring districts about possible shared services.

 Email Ashleigh Livingston: alivingston@pressrepublican.com

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ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES

The Beekmantown School Board also approved changes to the district's administrative team at the recent meeting.

Board members voted in favor of the three-year probationary appointment of Elaine Dixon to the post of principal of Beekmantown Elementary School at a prorated salary of $83,000.

Dixon currently serves as interim Middle School principal, but will vacate that position to take over for Matthew Slattery, who on March 1 became principal of Peru Elementary School.

Taking over as Middle School principal will be Amy Campbell, now assistant principal of the school.

The board OKd the three-year probationary appointment of Campbell, effective March 4, at a prorated salary of $81,153. In addition, the district hired Brittany Trybendis as interim assistant Middle School principal, effective March 4 through June 30, 2013, at a prorated salary of $62,500.

According to Beekmantown Central School Superintendent Scott Amo, Trybendis, who currently serves as a long-term substitute fourth-grade teacher at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School, will join the district as a certified administrator with eight years of teaching experience.