BC voters to have say on $88.3 M budget

Walking distance, buses, school board and public library also on the ballot

Voters in the Bethlehem School District will take to the polls Tuesday, May 18, to approve or disapprove of an $88,296,000 budget for the 2010-11 school year.

The budget is a 0.8 percent increase from this year's and would include an estimated 3 percent increase in the tax levy. The actual tax rate won't be available until the summer, when assessment equalization rates are set.

The district made cuts to nearly every area of the budget during a multi-month budgeting process. Among the reductions are 11 teachers, a special education teacher, 10 various staff and administrative positions, two custodians, the elimination of field trip funding and bevy of line items like clubs and technology upgrade budgets.

In athletics, two coaches were cut from the indoor track team, elementary intramurals were scaled back to two days per week and the cheerleading program was partially defunded by moving it into the clubs category from the athletics department.

The district also adopted a new facility usage fee schedule that increases the costs for community groups using school facilities, creating an estimated $60,000 increase in revenue. The new schedule was proposed as a way to avoid closing the Middle School pool.

The cuts were largely in response to further school aid reductions threatened in Gov. David Paterson's executive budget. BC would suffer a roughly $2.5 million reduction under that plan, but the state has yet to adopt a budget.

If voters reject the budget, the district will have the opportunity to put the same budget or an amended budget to a second vote, or go directly to a contingency budget.

A contingency budget is set by a state formula that is influence by the Consumer Price Index. Employee contracts and state mandates must still be honored.

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