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No need for second vote

June 12th, 2013

The Marlboro school board decided to adopt a contingency budget for the 2013-14 school year rather than put another budget up for a vote by the public. Many on the board voiced concern that whatever they put forth would fail to pass, even with lower figures.

By going to contingency, the originally proposed $50,441,631 school budget will be lowered by $20,028. The district will save $6,508 in salary and benefit increases for non-aligned support staff and an additional $13,520 in associated costs in overtime, electricity, water and gas for use of the buildings by the community on weekends.

The tax levy for 2013-14 is $35,039,142, which is a 13.7% decrease over the 2012-13 levy and is also $6.8 million lower than the calculated tax cap as determined by the state.

The average tax hike for residents still stands at 14.7%, however, the board has stated they will add money from reserve accounts to lower that figure once they have all of the assessment data, which is expected the first half of August.

The district’s final Educational Program and Fiscal Support Plan highlights the major changes the school board has implemented for the 2013-14 school year:

The board made staff reductions of 59.4 Full Time Equivalents [FTE], which breaks down to Administration (2.5 FTE); Building Administrators (2 FTE); Teachers (31 FTE); Secretarial (8 FTE); Operations & Food Service (5 FTE); Paraprofessionals (10.9 FTE).

Other Area Reductions – Closing of two elementary schools – Milton and Middle Hope; Milton Library Funding, School Lunch Support, Class Size increase, Modified Sports, and Termination of Pinnacle Lease.

District-wide Expense Reductions and Containments were made in Overtime, Conferences, Dues and Supplies.

The District continued support for Instructional Priorities and made Program Improvements – Full Day Kindergarten, Modified Enrichment program for gifted and high ability learners, Curriculum Mapping and Assessment Review, Third-party testing requirements, and Career & Technical Education Center Enrollment.

The District has continued support program initiatives and made improvements in purchasing practices to reduce expenses in the areas of utilities, printing, supplies/materials, audit/control procedures, grounds care, general cleaning, and maintenance.

Additional recognitions: local, state, and national economic recovery, state’s budget proposal, Governor’s tax cap proposal, and the sale of power generation plants.

During the course of compiling the budget, the board discussed making even deeper cuts, but ultimately decided not to do so, fearing the impact on student programs would be too severe. They indicated they will carefully scrutinize how the cuts they have already implemented will play out during the next school year to see where and by how much adjustments may need to be made.

The fiscal plan concludes by reminding everyone that “both the Enhanced and Basic STAR Programs are available. The Board of Education has maximized the Senior Citizen and Disabled Citizen Tax Exemptions at the highest levels permitted by law. The Income levels range from $29,000 or less to $37,399 for an assessment reduction between 50% and 5%.”

The school board has repeatedly stressed that “the District is committed to offering quality programs and services to all our children by maximizing resources available to principals and teachers in the form of staff, supplies, textbooks, and programs in light of the current economic challenges.”

By Mark Reynolds

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