The city school district’s proposed 2008-09 district budget has been cut by about $1 million to $107.7 million, and one of the casualties is a proposed elementary school foreign language program.
“This is not the year to introduce new programs,” said school board member Jay Rifenbary.
He and other board members agreed that the foreign language program for sixth-graders would have to wait until better economic times. The board cut the two new teaching positions for this program that was included in earlier budget drafts.
The first 2008-09 budget drafts projected a spending increase of 4.1 percent and a tax levy increase of nearly 6 percent, according to Kurt Jaeger, assistant superintendent for business.
After discussing the budget at Tuesday’s board meeting late into the night, the board directed Jaeger and his staff to see if the spending increase could be reduced to less than 3 percent.
This would bring the amount to be raised by taxes below a 4 percent increase, rather than the earlier projected 6 percent increase. “That’s what we are working on right now,” Jaeger said on Wednesday.
The school board on Tuesday looked at $733,000 in new program spending proposed in an early budget draft.
Members then started going line by line to see if the new spending was justified or should be cut.
Will Martin, school board vice president, said he strongly supported the foreign language program being started in earlier grades.
“But here I am, because of the economy, saying this isn’t the time,” Martin said.
Another area reduced significantly was spending on new technology, such as new computers and computer software.
The early budget draft showed a $250,000 increase in technology spending. This number was reduced to $150,000 at the suggestion of board member Charles Phillips.
Phillips said he thinks the school district needs to use the $100,000 as a cushion in the event that gasoline, electricity and other energy prices continue to skyrocket.
However, the board did keep about $44,000 in the budget for another after-school foreign language program in the elementary schools.
The money will be used to purchase Spanish and French language computer software for elementary students interested in starting their foreign language study early.
The board is expected to adopt its final budget at a regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Greenfield Elementary School.
Jaeger said he still has not projected individual tax rate increases for the city of Saratoga Springs and parts of Wilton, Greenfield, and other municipalities in the enlarged city school district.
District residents will vote on the budget May 20 along with a proposition to purchase buses and elect three people to the Board of Education.