The first Bethlehem Central School District’s first community budget forum will be held later this month, signaling the start of the 2011-12 school year budget process.
The district has held the forums for the past few years. Administrators generally give a presentation on various parts of the budget then take questions and suggestions from audience members. The meetings will be held in the Middle School library, with the first of two session scheduled for Monday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m.
The second session will be held on Feb. 7, and Superintendent Michael Tebbano is scheduled to present a budget proposal at a meeting of the Board of Education on Feb. 16.
That will be followed by a series of workshops when the school board will examine various departments and parts of the budget. The board is scheduled to adopt a budget on April 6, and the community will vote on May 5.
Like last year, administrators are anticipating plenty of difficult decisions in the coming months. It’s likely state aid for schools will again decrease. BC received $2.8 million less this year than it did in 2009-10. Simultaneously, health insurance costs and mandated pension contributions are expected to continue rising. The district budget this year totals $88.3 million.
The district said the ramifications of a property tax cap will also be carefully considered. Though a cap has been approached before by the legislature and failed to pass, there’s renewed rhetoric about tax relief at the capitol, including from incoming Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The district realizes 63 percent of its revenue from tax collections.“