Press-Republican

Education

May 2, 2013

Saranac Lake Central cuts principal post, Summer School

SARANAC LAKE — The proposed Saranac Lake Central School budget slipped through just below the tax-levy-cap maximum.

If voters pass the spending plan on May 21, one administrator would be laid off and the Summer School would be shut down.

LEVY UP 3.67%

Business Manager Dan Bower said the tax levy in the board-approved plan is up 3.67 percent, with a total $19,371,782 to be raised by taxes.

The tax-cap limit, adjusted for deductions and credits, is 3.79.

The total proposed 2013-14 school budget is $28,080,442, up 2.91 percent from the current year.

Saranac Lake Central gained nearly $394,000 more in funding in the final state budget. That mitigated drastic cost-saving measures to some extent, Bower said. But cuts were still necessary to close a $455,000 budget gap.

RETIREMENT FUND JUMP

A large portion of the budget increase comes from a 43 percent jump — $602,500 — in mandated payments to the State Teachers Retirement Fund.

The district briefly considered Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pension-smoothing plan, which allows schools and municipalities to obtain fixed-rate percentages for retirement contributions, sort of like a mortgage, amortized over 25 years.

“What the governor was proposing originally was allowing schools to smooth pension rate increases over 25 years at 12.5 percent,” Bower said. “But that is not what happened. The rate went to 16.25 percent as a one-year rate increase, and if you were going to take the smoothing option, you would not be able to take the exclusion in the tax-cap formula.

“When the measure came back in its final form, we saw it was just becoming a cash-flow moderator for refinancing debt. It really wasn’t helping our budget situation. We’re going to pay our bills as they come due,” he said.

STAFFING CUTS

One administrative job, Bloomingdale Elementary School principal, is being eliminated “because the employee there has the least seniority,” Bower said.

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