ROTTERDAM Schalmont school officials are looking at the 2012-13 budget somewhat relieved with no drastic cuts to programming, but Superintendent Valerie Kelsey warned next year might sting.
The Schalmont Budget Advisory Committee held its first meeting on Thursday, March 8, and discussed potential reductions to close the $340,000 budget gap. District officials are proposing a 1.94 percent tax levy increase for an additional $555,000. The district could propose a tax levy increase up to 2.33 percent and remain under the state tax cap threshold. The budget totals almost $41.93 million and holds about $154,000 increase in spending over the 2011-12 budget.
“As we’ve closed schools and cut staff we have been able to be fiscally responsible,” Kelsey said. “I think you will see around us there are schools in great crisis this year.”
District officials had predicted more painful cuts falling around $600,000 to $1 million, but state aid remained basically flat and the recently approved teachers union contract helped close the gap. The union contract is estimated to save the district $390,000 annually and covers from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2014.
Potential budget reductions across the elementary level include reducing elementary counseling by 0.2 full-time equivalent employee, reducing library aid by 0.5 FTE and reducing school nurse staffing by 0.2 FTE. Also, eliminating the elementary school literacy summer reading program was proposed to save the district $15,000.
Constant drops in enrollment have driven changes to the elementary school level, with only one of three schools remaining open after merging to Jefferson this school year.
“We have been systematically having declining enrollment,” Kelsey said.
The current school year enrollment fell below estimates, which was 1,877 students as opposed to the projected 1,895. The projected enrollment for the 2012-13 school year was 1,874 students. Kelsey expects the district to fall below next year’s estimates.