Press-Republican

April 22, 2013

BCSD proposes few cuts for 2013-14

By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
Press-Republican

---- — BEEKMANTOWN — Beekmantown Central School officials have proposed a 2013-14 budget that requires few cuts.

“We almost have a rollover budget from this current year to next year,” Beekmantown Central Superintendent Scott Amo told the Press-Republican.

The $37,773,998 spending plan, which has not yet been approved by the School Board, calls for the reduction of $327,000 worth of positions, though largely through attrition.

Amo has proposed eliminating the equivalent of two full-time science teachers and one custodial position through attrition and cutting the equivalent of one full-time social studies teacher and 0.2 of the district’s physical education director position.

The social-studies reduction, he said, will result in no fewer class sections, and the reduction in science teachers will have minimal effect on class offerings.

The district, Amo noted, will realize additional savings via the retirements of the equivalent of six full-time instructional and 10 full-time non-instructional staff, who will be replaced at lower salaries.

SAFETY MEASURES

BCSD will receive nearly $800,000 more state aid in 2013-14 than it did for the current school year, which is about $400,000 more than was originally projected in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget proposal.

“If it hadn’t been for the aid increase and those retirements, I theoretically could be looking at (having to eliminate) the equivalent of another 20 jobs,” Amo said.

The budget maintains extracurricular activities; art, music and physical-education staffing; Advanced Placement and college-level courses; and interscholastic athletics.

And it includes funding for increased technology support to assist with state assessments, as well as safety measures, including the installation of cameras and door locks.

Amo said there may be grant funding for those last items.

VERY SMALL FUND BALANCE

The spending plan also calls for the allocation of $1,065,000 in reserves, which will leave the district with only about $900 of fund balance beyond what the school is legally allowed to retain, Amo said.

State real property tax law states that school districts may retain in reserves up to 4 percent of their next year’s operating budget.

Amo said having so little fund balance at the end of next school year could make 2014-15 a difficult year financially.

NEGOTIATIONS CRITICAL

The Beekmantown Central’s calculated tax-levy limit is 4.2 percent; the budget proposal calls for a levy increase of 3.5 percent.

However, the district is currently involved in contract negotiations with three of its collective bargaining groups, the results of which could mean savings for BCSD and allow the school to decrease the tax levy before it is officially set in August, Amo said.

The results of the contract negotiations, he added, could also have a positive impact on the district’s finances in future years.

“Negotiations are a critical feature,” Amo said.

The Beekmantown School Board is expected to adopt the 2013-14 spending plan at its next meeting, scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Middle/High School Library.

Email Ashleigh Livingston:alivingston@pressrepublican.com