Tuxedo school bduget: $16.76 million

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  • George Baker High School in Tuxedo

— Tuxedo School District residents will vote on a $16,767,569 school budget next Tuesday, a 1.5 percent increase over the previous year’s budget.

With that 2013-2014 proposed budget comes a 4.69 tax levy for residents, explained Tuxedo School District Superintendent Carol Lomascolo and District Business Administrator Dawn Cupano.

A “yes” vote will also require a 60 percent majority because the proposed tax levy of 4.69 percent is above the formula –calculated 3.83 property tax cap, they said.

For this current school year, the tax levy was 2.98 percent.

“This budget means that we are maintaining programs from last year while introducing a new STEM Academy this year,” said Cupano.

The tax cap is a district-by-district calculation based on a formula, Cupano stressed.

For a hamlet home with a $75,000 assessed value, that taxpayer would see about a $50 annual increase in school taxes for the upcoming school year, she said.

“That number is based on hamlet homes, and it’s what people would be most familiar with,” said Cupano. “When we do a comparison, that’s the number we always start with. The other two groupings of homes are larger homes in other areas of the town and Tuxedo Park homes.”

Cupano noted Tuxedo, like all school districts, is coping with mandated costs, especially a 4.4 percent increase teacher pension contributions.

“This is a mandated cost, you have no choice,” said Cupano. “For many districts, it’s a big chunk of money and they have to look at possible program reductions.”

Lomascolo said building administrators, teachers union and central office administration gave back their salary increases for next year to show their support of the proposed budget.

That was a $135,000 savings, Lomascolo said, and “for a small district, that’s a lot of money.”

The proposed budget includes the following additions and reductions:

Introduction of the high school Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Academy, including an integrated program for the incoming ninth-grade, STEM electives and opportunities for grades 10 to 12, purchase of curriculum and materials, professional development, and funding for grant writing and public relations.

Decrease in teaching positions district-wide by 4.0 FTEs, due to reduction in enrollment.

“Give back” of salary increase by the teachers union, building administration and central office administration.

Increase in spending for student, staff and community safety and security, though the details remain confidential.

Introduction of wireless networking district-wide.

Continuation of a .4 FTE position for a K-6 Spanish program.

Continuation of all clubs, sports and activities at the 2012-2013 levels.

Increase in mandated “out-of-district” special education spending/placements.

Continuation and expansion in the virtual high school (VHS) program. VHS is a global high school that provides its course offerings online through the Internet. Seats would be increased from the current 10 seats/course availability to 20 seats, allowing more students to participate.

Expansion of the Mandarin Chinese program through the addition of a second college level course.

Continuation of the full-time K-12 intervention specialist. This position is responsible for K-12 crisis and community support as well as the education of students about current issues including the dangers of risky behaviors and substance abuse.

Purchase of a 20 passenger van to provide mandated transportation for out-of- district special education, private and parochial students. This purchase would allow the district to fulfill transportation mandates without contracting at significantly higher costs.

Lomascolo was “cautiously optimistic” about the voting public’s response to the proposed budget.

“I think our community will be happy that we held onto the program, we did not lose clubs or electives or APs and we are adding STEM,” she said. “I hope our community supports this new initiative and the direction we are looking to move the district in.”

- Nancy Kriz

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