By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
---- — SARANAC — Saranac Central School officials have proposed a 2013-14 spending plan that creates jobs and maintains all district programs.
The $31,503,754 budget represents an increase of less than 2 percent over the district’s 2012-13 plan, according to Saranac Central Superintendent Ken Cringle.
The proposed plan includes the addition of multiple positions, which, Cringle said, are needed due to modest growth in elementary enrollment.
Because the district’s elementary population has increased by 40 students over the last two years, the superintendent is recommending adding two full-time teachers and two part-time clerical positions at the elementary level.
Cringle has also proposed adding a part-time special-education position at the Middle School and the equivalent of half a full-time technology position to address growing needs in those areas.
The possible addition of administrative support to help with the implementation of the state-mandated Common Core Standards has been proposed, as well.
In addition, Cringle noted, $35,000 of the proposed spending plan would be allocated to enhancing the security of Saranac Central students and staff.
“Following a safety audit, the district identified a need to upgrade and expand camera capacity in each of the buildings,” he said.
MORE AID, LESS DEBT
Though the rising costs of employee benefits, health insurance and salaries contributed to a deficit of nearly $600,000 for next school year, Cringle said, SCSD has been able to bridge that gap without eliminating student programming.
He explained that the district will receive a modest increase in state aid next school year and anticipates energy-cost savings from its ongoing capital-improvement project, as well as decreases in debt payment from long-standing construction costs, which will narrow the deficit.
Pending School Board approval, the remainder of the gap would be closed by sending fewer students to Champlain Valley Educational Services, a move made possible by a decrease in high-school enrollment, Cringle said, and raising the tax levy.
While the district’s tax-levy limit is calculated at 5.62 percent, the superintendent anticipates the board will opt for a levy increase somewhere in the mid-to-upper-3-percent range.
In addition, Cringle anticipates applying about $2.8 million in fund balance to the spending plan; however, that figure could change depending on where the board decides to set the tax levy.
Saranac Central’s fiscal situation, he noted, is the result of having made difficult decisions to reduce staff in past years, which, along with timely employee concessions and adherence to a long-term financial plan, has helped the district control costs.
“That has helped or enabled the district to maintain student programs,” Cringle said.
The Saranac Central School Board is expected to adopt a 2013-14 spending plan at its next meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in the District Office.
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