Tuxedo's smooth budget process nearly complete

| 22 Feb 2012 | 05:15

    The new school financing mantra is do more with less TUXEDO - Tuxedo School District officials plan to present a proposed $16,449,304 budget to its Board of Education, with the hope that this budget will be adopted and presented to voters. While the third and last 2011-2012 budget workshop session was scheduled to take place last night, the proposed budget is a 1.05 percent decrease over last year’s $16,623,780 budget but will come with a 1.98 percent tax levy to district residents. To reach those numbers, Interim Superintendent Carol Lomascolo said that required closing a $672,000 gap and the elimination of a .4 full-time equivalent elementary teacher, which equates to a less than part-time teaching position. “We’re in no way in the same situation as other districts,” said Lomascolo on Tuesday. “Some districts that don’t rely as much on state aid are faring better. Our tax levy is just under two percent. “ District Business Administrator Dawn Cupano said the $672,000 gap was expense-driven combined with revenue shortfalls. This year, the district is receiving 5.14 percent less in state aid, or $47,637. To close that gap, she explained, the district is drawing on $70,000 from its reserve accounts to fund the New York State Employee Retirement System fund for non-teachers, to meet the increased, state-mandated contribution costs. The district also found an additional $360,000 in savings from changes in the composition of its special education students, Cupano and Lomascolo added. Changes amidst belt-tightening Examples of changes, said Cupano, included special education students who have graduated, bringing some BOCES students back into the district for services, and a change in some of the types of special education services required by students. “We were able to do this while doing what’s best for the children, but it also had a positive financial impact on the district,” said Cupano. The remaining $250,000 came from what Lomascolo called “belt-tightening” in the district. “We asked everyone to take a careful look at what they were using,” she said. “We also looked at items we purchased which we are now putting into grant applications.” Additionally, Lomascolo said, the district has continued “using other tools” to cut costs, such as municipal agreements to purchase oil, participating in BOCES’ bidding process, taking part in a cooperative to buy natural gas and transportation fuel, and developing partnerships with neighboring school districts for busing where feasible. Do more with less “We’re looking at our expenses and seeing how we can control and maintain the level of services to our students so they are not disrupted while being sure those services are what our residents expect,” said Lomascolo. “We’re telling ourselves to be creative and do more with less. That also seems to be the state’s mantra.” The loss of the .4 teaching position, Lomascolo said, was the result of adding a program in the elementary school combined with an increase in some pupil personnel services and a reduction of a portion of a program in the elementary school. Unlike last year, when the district purchased a 33-passenger, wheelchair-accessible bus for $67,000, there are no large capital expenses in this budget. Lomascolo acknowledged Tuxedo’s budget process to much less stressful than other districts are facing. “When we read in the papers about other districts and what they’re dealing with, ours (Tuxedo’s budget preparation) has been fairly smooth,” said Lomascolo. “It’s a proper budget. We’ve done a lot of homework.” The proposed budget will be presented to the Board of Education on Thursday, April 14. - Nancy Kriz

    When we read in the papers about other districts and what they’re dealing with, ours (Tuxedo’s budget preparation) has been fairly smooth.” Carol Lomascolo, Tuxedo School District interim superintendent

    By the numbers
    Proposed 2011-2012 budget: $16,449,304
    A 1.05 percent decrease over last year
    A 1.98 percent tax levy to residents