Bethlehem Central School District keeps budget under cap

Cuts to staff and equipment purchases help close gap

— The Bethlehem Central school board has adopted a spending plan for the 2014-15 school year that does not challenge the state tax cap.

The adopted plan calls for more than $92.6 million in spending for the coming school year and a tax levy increase of 2.99 percent. The proposed budget increases spending by $2.2 million from the current school year.

The Board of Education adopted the budget at the Tuesday, April 22, meeting. This is the first time in three years the district will not be challenging the state’s tax cap.

“We’re hoping this plan maintains as much of our educational programs that we have, as well as provides what we hope would be reasonable to present to the community,” said Douglas.

The district was facing a $4.8 million budget gap for the coming school year. About $1.2 million in fund balance will be used to close the gap, along with taking in an additional $1.8 million through the tax levy. The district also received an additional $580,000 in state aid.

To close the gap, the board needed find to $768,000 in reductions. It was decided the district could do away with one social worker. An additional 3.8 full-time equivalent teaching positions would be reduced because of decreased student enrollment projections.

Other money was found though lowering equipment additions in both the technology and operations and maintenance departments. Money was also saved by purchasing supplies early.

The public hearing on the proposed budget is set for Wednesday, May 7, at 7 p.m.

The budget vote will take place on Monday, May 20, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Also on the ballot is the election of three Board of Education members and a referendum to replace several buses.

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