Budget decreases spending for 4th year, meets Property Tax Levy Cap

(May 6, 2013) Averill Park Central School District residents will go to the polls on May 21 to vote on a proposed $53.49 million budget for the 2013-2014 school year. Residents will also consider a $12.9 million Capital Project referendum that addresses technology, health and safety needs and critical building repairs at no additional cost to residents and voters elect three candidates to three seats on the Board of Education.

The proposed plan decreases spending for a fourth consecutive year and is $30,253 less than the current year’s budget. If approved by voters, it would result in a 2.99 percent tax levy increase, which is at the district’s maximum allowable tax levy limit as calculated under the state’s tax levy cap formula. Tax rates for individual properties will be determined over the summer once equalization rates and assessments are available for the district’s nine towns.

Our District has faced four continuous years of program reductions due to declining state aid, rising costs, and the property tax levy limit in the last two years. Each year has resulted in diminished course offerings, decreased support services and fewer extracurricular opportunities.

“Throughout the budget development process, the administration and Board of Education’s goal has been to maintain programs with limited reductions and not eliminate programs,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Hoffman. “The 2013-14 budget proposal seeks to preserve as many academic opportunities as possible so that all students in grades K-12 meet educational goals and graduate college and career ready, even in challenging fiscal times.”

When the budget process started, AP faced a $1 million budget gap, mostly attributed to a significant increase in employee pension costs, and the state imposed Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). The increase in contributions to the pension system will cost the district an additional $989,725, a 28.6 percent increase over the current year. That will bring the total contributions for pension costs to $4.45 million, or 8.31 percent, of the $53.4 million proposed budget. Under the GEA, Averill Park has lost more than $10 million in aid and is projected to lose another $2.9 million next year.

State aid would account for about 43.4 percent of the district’s revenue in the 2013-14 proposed budget, and the tax levy, which is the amount of revenue a school district collects through local property taxes, would account for about 51.5 percent. The final state budget allocates about $23.2 million in state aid to Averill Park, an increase of $322,895, or 1.49 percent, compared to the current school year.

A closer look at the proposed budget

In order to balance the budget and preserve programs, district officials made staffing reductions and program adjustments. Included in the proposal is the reduction of 13.3 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions (5.5 FTE through attrition) including 1.3 FTE Art, 2.5 FTE Music (1.0 FTE through attrition), 1.3 FTE LOTE (Languages Other Than English), 0.5 FTE Family and Consumer Science (0.5 FTE through attrition), 2.0 FTE Physical Education (attrition), 3.0 FTE Elementary teachers (2.0 FTE through attrition), 1.5 FTE Special Education, 0.2 FTE Central Administration and 1.0 FTE Substance Abuse Counselor.

Changes to the high school program included in the proposal are driven by a decline in electives. Reductions
include photography and yearbook classes, Japanese III and IV and Spanish and French V.

At the middle school, the proposed budget keeps Band/Orchestra/Chorus (BOC) intact to fulfill State mandate, as well as performing groups, creates a “seminar” course for Grade 6 as a year-long (alternating day 40 minute) program and restructures LOTE to be offered as a year-long (alternating day 40 minute) program. The proposal includes reducing Family and Consumer Science to mandated levels, reducing number of grade 6 sections
due to lower enrollments and phasing out Studio Art.

At the elementary schools, the proposed budget includes reducing the kindergarten day by two hours. Under the proposal, the Band/Orchestra program would commence in sixth grade, instead of grade five, as it does currently.


The proposed budget plan allows the district to maintain its core academic programs, including College in the High School courses through which students can earn college credits and Advanced Placement courses.

A budget newsletter will be mailed to taxpayers following the Public Budget Hearing. The budget hearing will be held on Tuesday, May 14 at 6 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. Download the budget newsletter (pdf).

 

What's being retained in the proposed budget?

  • Maintains current number of elementary homerooms with an average class size of 23
  • Preserves Academic Intervention Services (AIS) grades K-12
  • Maintains special area subjects (Art, Music, Library, PE) taught by content specialist in grades 1-5
  • Maintains academic program at the Kindergarten level
  • Maintains full range of special education programs
  • Preserves transition & related services for Students with Disabilities
  • Maintains School Counselor Services grades 6-12
  • Continues Social Work, Psychological support at each level
  • Maintains the Band, Orchestra and Chorus program grades 6-12
  • Maintains accelerated Earth Science and accelerated math program
  • Maintains approximate current class size in middle school core courses
  • Maintains Advanced Placement course offerings & College in the HS opportunities in LOTE (Languages Other Than English) & math
  • Continues Distance Learning (students will have access to 2 additional Advanced Placement courses, one additional LOTE offering & two College in HS STEM courses)
  • Preserves four LOTE opportunities
  • Upholds Project Lead the Way technology curriculum
  • Sustains electives in Art, Theater, AutoTech & Construction Technology
  • Preserves remaining fourth year high school electives in science, math & social studies
  • Continues JV & Varsity Interscholastic Athletic Program