By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
---- — BEEKMANTOWN — Beekmantown Central School’s 2014-15 budget proposal expands offerings for students and stays within the district’s minimal tax-levy limit.
The $38,972,430 budget, which was adopted at a recent School Board meeting, is up 3.53 percent from this year’s spending plan and carries a tax-levy increase at the district’s state-allowed limit of 0.77 percent.
Due to growth in the tax base, the district expects a slight decrease in its 2014-15 tax rate, according to Beekmantown Central Superintendent Dan Mannix.
MORE STATE AID
The school anticipates receiving a $1.1 million increase in state aid in the upcoming academic year, which is nearly $500,000 more than was forecast in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget.
That, combined with a number of cost-saving measures taken throughout 2013-14, including the negotiated switch of Beekmantown Teachers and Support Staff unions to Plan B health insurance, has allowed the district to bolster its offerings.
“We have a number of factors that are really lining up in the positive direction,” Mannix said at the meeting.
The budget adds:
• 2.1 teaching positions to increase foreign-language offerings in the middle and high schools, assist with Middle and Elementary school art instruction and allow for upper-level science courses.
• A part-time school safety officer, to be shared with Saranac Central School.
• A per-diem nurse for student safety.
• A crisis counselor to assist with students with disabilities, as well as administrative duties.
• Two teachers to accommodate the need for two additional class sections at the elementary level.
The district also proposes establishing a learning center for High School students and hiring two part-time monitors to free up teaching staff for it.
The budget includes new funding for Beekmantown Central’s work readiness credentials program, academic interventions in the middle and elementary schools, professional development, curriculum enhancements related to the state-mandated Common Core standards, technology equipment, updates to the Community Fitness Center and equipment for the Transportation and Buildings and Grounds departments.
Eliminated by the proposal are one bus-driver position, one support-staff member and a 0.4 teaching position, all through attrition.
By consolidating a bus route and reorganizing special services at the elementary level, the district is able to do without the driver and partial teaching position, Mannix told the Press-Republican.
While the plan calls for the allocation of $1.2 million in fund balance, or undesignated reserves, the district has budgeted $150,000 to be placed in designated reserves.
On Tuesday, May 20, district residents will also be asked to weigh in on a proposition to purchase three 65-passenger buses, one 45-passenger bus with a wheelchair station and one 12-passenger van for the school, at a total cost not to exceed $472,500.
The purchases would be offset by the trade, auction or sale of five buses and be eligible for reimbursement by the state at a rate of about 72.4 percent.
BCSD has also included $150,000 in its 2014-15 spending proposal to be used toward the new buses, Mannix said.
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IF YOU GO
Beekmantown Central School will hold a public hearing on its 2014-15 budget proposal at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, in the Middle/High School auditorium.