Tax levy would jump 3 percent if approved
The Bethlehem Central School District Board of Education has adopted a $88.3 million budget for the 2010-11 school year that, if passed by voters, would see a 3 percent increase in the school tax levy.
That’s more than the 2 percent increase put forward last year, but the district still had to make nearly $1.9 million in budget cuts to get to that level. Like last year, costs have gone up and early versions of the state budget are calling for a $2.5 million cut in state aid to the district.
The budget was adopted unanimously at a Wednesday, March 24, meeting.
Among the reductions are 11l 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.
Many of the more controversial cuts discussed in previous meetings were avoided, however, including the closure of the Middle School pool and the removal of the indoor track team. Instead, the district adopted a new facility use fee schedule that is expected to generate an additional $60,000 in revenues and cut two track coaches from the track team, in addition to a modified football coach, for a total savings of $10,000.
Finding athletic cuts is difficult, said Superintendent Michael Tebbano, because the entire program is only about $300,000.
We have probably one of the leanest athletic budgets in the suburban council, he said. `We need to find a way to fund this a little but more equitably so our kids do have a chance in the future.`
The board also voted to include funding for two days of elementary intramural sports per week instead of cutting all four days.
In additional votes, the school board voted to tentatively raise the price of school meals dramatically. If approved in July, lunches would go up $1 to $3 for elementary students and $3.25 at the middle and high schools; adult lunch would jump $1.50 to $4.50; and breakfast would increase $1 to $2. The price of snacks and a la carte items would also increase.
Even so, the program is not expected to break even, but the subsidy paid from the general fund would be halved to $50,000.
Raising prices to break even would mean a lunch price of around $5, said Tebbano.
`I think we would probably price the program right out of existence,` he said.
Board President Jim Dering said even the new prices should not present a burden for most`and pointed out eating a school lunch is an option, not a requirement.
`For people to be able to get something at below cost is a pretty good deal,` he said.
Board member Matt Downey dissented on the vote.
Also, the board withdrew a motion to put to voter referendum a proposal to increase the walking distance from the Middle School from 0.5 miles to 1 mile at a savings of $10,600. An identical proposal for the High School walking distance will go to voters.
The vote to put forward the High School referendum was split 4-3, with Dering, Diana Giacone Stever and Lynne Lenhardt dissenting.
Voters will go to the polls May 18 to vote on the budget and referendums.
For more on the BC budget, read the March 31 edition of The Spotlight.