Preliminary Hyde Park school budget sets tax levy increase at 2.03%

This year’s proposed school budget shows a 3 percent increase over last year’s but only has a 2.03 percent tax hike, according to early calculations.

The overall general operating budget comes in at $87,399,907, which is $2.6 million more than for 2012-2013. The tax levy increase of 2.03 percent is within the state-mandated cap after the appropriate calculations specific to Hyde Park have been made, such as growth factors and payments from PILOTs. But the tax rate per thousand on the new budget won’t be available until the summer, according to Assistant Superintendent for Business Wayne Kurlander. This year’s tax per thousand was $36.24.

At a March 27 school board presentation of the budget numbers, administrators were concerned about a budget gap of $261,018. But Cora Stempel, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Personnel, told the Observer last week that state aid increases will mean “we will have enough in state aid to close the gap without any further cuts.”

According to Kurlander, projected state aid for Hyde Park now stands at $26,048,622, a 7.6 percent, or $1.8 million, increase over last year. He noted that of that amount, $712,694 is earmarked for building projects, so the usable amount for the general fund is $1,130,906.

At the board meeting, Stempel presented details on the program component of the budget, which consists of costs associated with instruction and teaching, including curriculum development, BOCES transportation and employee benefits. The benefits portion is up $388,898 or 1.81 percent over last year, for a total of $979,810.

Stempel said one area the district is saving is a 2.3 percent decrease, or $2,786, in spending on in-service training—including less participation in BOCES–which she attributed to finding ways to achieve the same opportunities but in more efficient ways.

Another area of savings is personnel reductions. Five elementary teacher positions will be eliminated due to enrollment decreases and retirements and the position of Dean of Students at FDR High School will be eliminated.

Kurlander will present the proposed budget at the April 10 BOE meeting at FDR High School at 7pm. The budget will be adopted at the April 24 BOE meeting at 7pm at Haviland Middle School, and voters will get to approve or disapprove it on Tues., May 20 from 6am to 9pm at Haviland Middle School.

Monday, May 12 is the last day to register to vote. From 4pm to 8pm, voter registration will be open at the district office. Community residents meeting eligibility requirements to vote can also complete a voter registration form at the middle school.

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