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Saratoga Springs school budget plan cuts jobs, increases taxes by 4 percent

Saratoga Springs school budget plan cuts jobs, increases taxes by 4 percent

The Saratoga Springs City School District is facing a challenging 2013-14 budget year, with spending

The Saratoga Springs City School District is facing a challenging 2013-14 budget year, with spending projected to increase from $109.7 million to $113.2 million and the tax levy increasing nearly 4 percent.

“It’s not ideal but is certainly something we can manage,” said district Superintendent Michael Piccirillo.

The district expects to cut 15 teaching and support staff positions in the next school year, but will do it through attrition, as it has done over the past few years.

“We are hoping we won’t have to have layoffs,” he said.

Kurt Jaeger, the assistant superintendent for business, said state aid is being reduced by an estimated $1.2 million in 2013-14 and state retirement contributions and health insurance costs have both increased considerably. He said these two areas alone are $4 million higher.

Jaeger presented the first draft of the new budget to the Board of Education this week. The board will hold budget workshops and hearings in the next month leading up to adoption of a final budget proposal April 9. A public vote will be held May 14.

The budget draft calls for a 3.9 percent increase in the tax levy, the amount of money to be raised by taxes. It would be $75.4 million in 2013-14 compared with $72.6 million in the 2012-13 school year. The actual tax rate would increase by a similar amount but has not been calculated.

The tax levy increase is well within the limits of the tax cap set by the state.

Jaeger said more work needs to be done; the draft budget factors in $1.4 million worth of as-yet unspecified cuts.

For the past several years the city school district has used funds left over from previous budget years to balance its next budget. The 2013-14 proposal allocates $5.8 million in surplus funds for this purpose, $550,000 more than in 2012-13.

Piccirillo said the district’s educational programs are not being affected significantly in the new budget. He said there will be some increases in class sizes and some program reductions but nothing major.

He will present a budget workshop focusing on the instruction program, including staffing and class sizes, at 7 p.m. March 19 in the teaching auditorium of Saratoga Springs High School on West Avenue.

District residents will vote May 14 on the budget proposal. They will also vote on two spending propositions:

• A $3.2 million capital construction proposition that will be funded almost totally by state aid and capital reserve money. The projects include fire and safety upgrades throughout the district as well as roof replacement on at least one building.

• The annual transportation proposition, which calls for the purchase of seven new 66-passenger buses and three 24-passenger buses at a total cost of $950,000, 45.2 percent of which would be covered by state aid.

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