School district mulls draft budget

Middleburgh Central School District officials are looking at a draft budget for the next school year
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Middleburgh Central School District officials are looking at a draft budget for the next school year of between $19.8 million and $20.2 million, depending on how staff requests and state aid figures end up.

Using only the basic budget needs, district Business Manager John DeSanto said a $19,816,672 contingency budget for 2008-2009 would be $882,754 over the current budget of $18.9 million.

That would increase the amount to be raised from taxes, the levy, by about 3.1 percent, DeSanto told district Board of Education members last week.

If all preliminary budget requests are included, the tax levy could rise by about 7.1 percent under a worst-case scenario, DeSanto said.

The final budget to be presented to voters May 20 will likely be “closer to the contingency budget,” DeSanto said Monday.

The actual effect on property tax bills next August has not been projected, and would vary among the 11 towns in the district depending on equalization rates.

The amount of state aid in the draft district budget was based on former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s proposed budget, so final aid figures are dependent on the shape of the budget package worked out between newly installed Gov. David Paterson and the state Legislature.

The total state aid, based on Spitzer’s budget, is up slightly to $10,623,924 from $10,381,489 in the 2007-2008 budget.

Included in the district’s budget requests is an additional $46,000 basic salary to add one staff psychologist to one already employed at a current salary of $55,375.

Another $30,000 would cover a proposed new combined bus driver/groundskeeper position. An additional $32,000 is budgeted for a new full-time accountant/clerk typist for the business and building and ground departments.

Although contract negotiations are not complete, the proposed budget includes an estimated average pay increase of about 4 percent for most employees, according to DeSanto.

About 75 percent of the overall budget goes for employee salaries and benefits.

Benefits alone account for about $4.7 million, up about 5.5 percent over this year.

The largest benefits increase is in the cost of health insurance, which is projected to rise about $193,600 to a total of $2.613,560 in 2008-2009.

The budget also includes a $124,297 rise in special education services the district is required to fund for students with handicaps or special needs. Special education includes a total of nearly $2.36 million next year for the 960-student district’s approximately 190 special education students.

Depending on needs, a single special education student could require the expenditure of as much as $80,000, according to district Superintendent Michele Weaver.

Part of the overall budgeted cost is for $300,000 the district must pay in tuition to districts or private schools for placement of eight special-needs students.

Higher fuel costs also pushed up the budget by $58,410, to a total of $175,230 for the year.

A tentative budget must be adopted by the Board of Education by April 25, but DeSanto said Monday he hopes the board will be able to adopt it at its April 9 meeting.

A proposition already approved for the May 20 ballot will also ask voters to authorize the purchase of six buses of various sizes for a cost not to exceed $368,000.

Categories: Schenectady County

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