Proposed budget represents the fourth year of spending decreases, meets the tax levy cap for second year

(April 10, 2013) At its meeting on April 9, the Averill Park Central School District Board of Education adopted a $53,489,312 budget proposal for the 2013-14 school year. A budget hearing will be held May 14 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. in the Averill Park High School Cafeteria. District residents will vote on the spending plan May 21.

The proposed budget decreases spending for a fourth consecutive year. The plan will be $30,253 or 0.1 percent less than the current year budget. If voters approve the spending plan, the tax levy would increase by 2.99 percent – within the District’s maximum allowable tax levy limit as determined by the state’s tax levy cap formula, requiring approval by a simple majority of voters to pass. Tax Levy Cap Information

The Board arrived at the spending plan after working with the administration for several months to develop a budget that supports student educational needs, while keeping the tax levy increase within the tax levy cap.

“Through the budget development process, our goal has been to maintain programs with limited adjustments, rather than complete elimination of programs,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Hoffman. “By using a ‘scalpel vs. meat cleaver’ approach, the administration and Board of Education worked diligently to develop a budget for next year with reductions that have the least impact upon the greatest number of students.”

To help guide their work, district leaders and the Board focused on these specific goals:

  • Use attrition wherever possible to reduce staff;
  • Keep the remaining Averill Park High School Program intact as much as possible to be able to offer opportunities that will prepare students for college and career readiness;
  • Maintain the integrity of the K-12 program; and
  • Adhere to expectations and goals set forth by the AP2020 Task Force.

Included in the proposal is the reduction of 13.3 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions (4.0 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, 2.0 FTE Physical Education (attrition), 3.0 FTE Elementary teachers (1.0 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 enrollment. 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 Languages Other Than English (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 program by two hours. Students would arrive with the general student population and be dismissed at 1:15 p.m. for home or the in-school child care option. Under the proposal, the Band/Orchestra program would commence in sixth grade.

When the budget process started, the District faced a $1 million budget gap, mostly attributed to a significant increase in employee pension costs, and the Gap Elimination Adjustment. The increase in contributions to the pension system will cost the District an additional $989,725, or 28.6 percent, compared to 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.

The district has two main sources of funding -- state aid and the tax levy, which is the amount of revenue a school district collects through local property taxes. Other smaller sources of revenue include non-resident tuition and facilities rental. Under the 2013-14 revenue plan, state aid would account for about 43.4 percent of the district’s revenue, and the tax levy 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.

On May 21, voters will also elect three members to the Board of Education and decide on a $12.9 million Capital Improvement Project referendum.The capital project will address technology, health and safety needs and critical building repairs at no additional cost to residents.

More budget information is available on the budget page and residents will receive a budget newsletter in May. The budget vote will take place on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Averill Park High School.