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April 30, 2013

Adopted budget restores City School programs

$39.6 million spending plan maintains current programs, restores some cuts

PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh City School Board has adopted a 2013-14 budget that maintains all current programs and restores some previous cuts, including gymnastics.

The $39,632,807 spending plan, approved 5 to 3 at a recent meeting, represents a $200,000 increase over the budget City School Superintendent James “Jake” Short had proposed for next year.

The adopted budget, which takes additional money from reserves, would also reinstate partial funding for field trips and restore a part-time music teacher back to full time.

Also, a program for gifted and talented students would be reinstated, though not to the scale of the Odyssey Program that was cut from the current budget.

SAME LEVY INCREASE

The remaining $70,000 of additional money would be used to fund an elementary teaching position should the need arise due to increased enrollment. If it doesn’t, the money would go back into fund balance.

Board Member Fred Wachtmeister suggested funding for the items be included in the plan after the board defeated Short’s proposal in a 7-to-1 vote.

The superintendent had suggested the district reduce its use of fund balance from the $1.9 million allocated for this year to $1.7 million, to ensure the reserves last longer; the adopted plan would use the higher amount if voters approve it in May.

As with Short’s proposal, however, the board-approved plan would carry a tax-levy increase of 2.49 percent. The district’s allowable limit is 5.58 percent.

Thanks to $591,586 more in state aid than had been expected and $665,000 from the district’s employee retirement reserve, the budget calls for no layoffs. 

However, the equivalent of one full-time secondary teaching position would be eliminated through attrition, and retirees would be replaced at lower salaries.

‘A LOT OF KIDS’

Before voting on the proposed budgets, the board heard from community members.

Plattsburgh resident Ron Marino noted that despite being cut from the 2012-13 budget, the gymnastics team was able to raise enough money to sustain itself for the year.

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