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Schalmont decides not to increase tax levy

Superintendent: School closings key to maintaining programs

Closing two elementary schools in the Schalmont Central School District helped the Board of Education approve a 2011-12 budget that has a zero percent tax levy increase.

The Schalmont Board of Education on Monday, April 11, approved a proposed budget of $41.77 million and reduced spending by $550,000 compared to the 2009-10 budget while maintaining programs. Staffing cuts primarily achieved through closing the Mariaville and Woestina elementary schools totaled 23 full-time equivalent positions, which were 10 teachers, 10 support staff and three administrators. Declining enrollment was the main reason for the school closings.

We are certainly, as a district, making every effort to find efficiencies and to deal with declining enrollment and the fiscal situation we are in, said Superintendent Valerie Kelsey.

Board of Education President Kevin Thompson said the proposed budget is aligned with the board's values and goals.

"As a board, we tried to be mindful of our mission to provide a quality education for Schalmont students and to also recognize the economic challenges facing our district and our taxpayers. I believe this budget accomplishes those goals," Thompson said in a statement.

While closing schools isn't an easy choice, said Kelsey, the emotional decision was made for the quality of education students would receive. She previously said the district would also be looking at ways to bring additional revenue through allowing outside groups and organizations to use the facilities.

"It is always difficult to close schools, and working with our community on trying to get through that process has been a rewarding experience on how a community can come together to make difficult decisions and make decisions that are best for their children," said Kelsey. "We have worked together with our community with the understanding of why we were doing this was to maintain programs with students and to maintain fiscal responsibility."

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