BY LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — TICONDEROGA — Balancing the new Ticonderoga Central School budget means cutting 11 jobs and reducing hours for 12 more.
Superintendent John McDonald Jr. said that to close a $540,000 gap and keep the 2013-14 budget under the state tax-levy cap, the district is eliminating full-time math, science, English and teacher-aide positions, plus part-time English and driver’s education teachers and 4.5 teaching assistants.
Also, if voters OK the spending plan, another 12 positions will be reduced to part time: business, art, foreign language, guidance, home and careers, music, technology, English and math instructors and a computer aide and social worker.
A retiring librarian would not be replaced.
The action means 11.6 full-time-equivalent positions would be cut. The district would drop from an instructional staff of 100 to 89.
McDonald said teachers would now move from building to building for classes, so subjects are still covered.
Advanced Placement courses would still be offered, although art and music electives would be reduced.
“We’ve got to look at our staffing,” McDonald said. “We have declining enrollment.”
Ticonderoga has 840 students in grades kindergarten through 12, from 975 in 2008-09.
LEVY UP 3.78%
The 2013-14 budget has a tax levy of $10.7 million, a 3.78 percent increase from this year. The state formula allows the district to tax up to that 3.78 percent without requiring supermajority passage of the budget.
The full spending plans totals $18.5 million, a 3.7 percent increase over this school year.
The tentative tax rates are $10.15 per $1,000 of assessed value in the Ticonderoga part of the district, a 37-cent increase, and $12.20 in the Hague part, a 44-cent rise.
The superintendent said Ticonderoga got into the predicament because the district played by the state’s rules.
“We never exceeded a 4 percent fund balance prescribed by the (state) comptroller. As a result, we don’t have a cushion for these times.”
Health insurance is up 4 percent, about $150,000, under Plan A, McDonald said, which is only used by school retirees. Current employees are under Plan B, and that has no increase this year.
State aid is slated to go up 3.7 percent, for an additional $240,000.
The vote will include a proposition to buy one school bus and lease two for a total of $93,800.
McDonald said they believe the next school year will be a better one financially for the district.
“We do feel we’ll turn the corner next year. We feel like we’ll become healthy again, maybe restore some programs.”
He said the district will retire some of its debt service on previous building projects, and State Teacher Retirement System costs are expected to stabilize.
There were no concessions requested, McDonald said, because teachers and staff made concessions for the last three years.
“Our staff made more than $1 million in concessions over the last three years. State Education (Department) told us we are the only district with three consecutive years of concessions. I want to commend our staff for an unprecedented three years of concessions.”
He said the budget gives teachers contractual 2.8 percent raises and a return to the previously frozen pay scale for 2013-14, so the effective increase is about 9 percent.
Non-instructional staff and administrators are receiving 3 percent salary increases.
Administrative salaries had been frozen for the last three to five years, he said.
McDonald said he feels bad about the job cuts.
“There’s nobody on the list I don’t value. They’ve worked very hard for the kids.”
Email Lohr McKinstry:firstname.lastname@example.org
The budget hearing is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Ticonderoga Elementary-Middle School auditorium.
The school election and budget vote is from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, at Hague Community Center and Ticonderoga High School lobby.