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Schalmont school district readies budget

Officials for Schalmont Central Schools unveiled the district's $41.55 million preliminary 2008-2009 budget at the first of two public budget workshops on Wednesday, March 26.

The board is set approve the budget at its next scheduled meeting on Monday, April 7.

The proposed budget represents a 3.63 percent increase over the $40.1 million 2007-2008 budget.

Superintendent Valerie Kelsey touted the fact that the projected budget continues the district's five-year trend of decreased increases in the tax levy.

In 2006-2007 the board passed a budget that marked a 5.82 percent increase from the previous year. The 2007-2008 budget reduced the increase to 4.5 percent and the estimated tax levy increase for 2008-2009 would be 2.99 percent, according to school officials.

"We're already motivated to continue this trend in the next budget process," said Kelsey.

Kelsey was adamant that the recent reassessment in Rotterdam did not provide for additional revenue for the school district, only how the levy was distributed among the taxpayers.

Kelsey said rising diesel fuel costs, salary costs and health-care expenses accounted for the budget increase.

Under the proposed budget, wage expenditures rise slightly from $18.25 million to $19.27 million, while the cost of benefits also rise slightly from $9.99 million to $10.25 million.

Despite the increase in salary costs, Kelsey said the school will be forced to cut back several staff positions due to declining enrollment. She said one full-time position will be cut from the middle school as well as some part-time positions in art, music and physical education departments. At the high school, Kelsey said some non-essential, part-time positions would be cut.

Kelsey said the district is also working to combine other positions. Instead of having a supervisor of transportation and a building and grounds supervisor, these positions will merge. She said Schalmont would also provide a stipend for a head mechanic instead of hiring a separate bus repair supervisor.

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