Clarence Central School District residents would face a 9.8 percent increase in the tax levy for the 2013-14 school year, under the latest version of the district’s proposed spending plan.
The final percentage could be different when voters have their say May 21. But the new draft gives insight into job cuts and other changes that are planned.
Superintendent Geoffrey M. Hicks said the amount of the tax levy increase will likely change prior to the budget vote, given that distribution of state funds is yet to come.
Those funds are expected to be finalized toward the end of this month, and Hicks said that “there is a likelihood” the district will receive additional state aid.
The latest budget draft for the Clarence district contains 30 job cuts, including 18½ teaching positions. Five of those positions stem from announced retirements.
During the budget process, Hicks has stressed cutting costs while minimizing the effect on the district’s programs and classrooms.
“In our budget, which is very tightly constructed, when you get to the point of having to reduce another 18 or 19 teachers, it becomes really difficult to do it without having significant negative impact,” he said.
Hicks noted that the draft budget plus the last two years’ adopted budgets contain a total of 90 job cuts and $5.8 million in reductions. “That’s in a $73 million budget. It’s enormous,” he said, “and there’s no way for us, after having that much reduction, to have the same kinds of educational opportunities that we’ve always had for kids. It has been diminished.
“And we really don’t feel that we can cut any more. That’s why, at this point, we’ve stopped, and the tax levy turned out to be 9.8 percent, when we got to that point of feeling that any additional reductions were going to have a significantly negative impact on the educational program at Clarence.”
If the spending plan put before voters is higher than the 3.7 percent property tax levy cap, the budget would require support from at least 60 percent of voters in order to pass; a budget within the cap would need only a simple majority for passage.
In January, Hicks outlined a $6.4 million budget gap the district was facing; with the reductions and other steps described in the second draft, the district would still face a $3.9 million deficit.
A 9.8 percent tax levy increase would mean the owner of a home with a market value of $100,000 would pay about $141 in additional property taxes.
The Clarence Tax Payers group has called for the district to go even further to control growth in expenses, including reopening the teachers contract to negotiate a higher contribution toward health care costs, and exploring retirement incentives.
The School Board has scheduled another budget workshop for 7 p.m. next Monday in the high school.