The Library at Petrova Elementary School in Saranac Lake is designed to handle 20 or 30 Middle School or Elementary School students at a time, which is why the 140 people who filled the library over capacity at Wednesday’s meeting of the School Board made a statement all in itself.. Business Manager Dan Bower says the rollover budget was $29,185,000 and the Superintendent’s proposed budget comes at $28,274,000 now, a $910,000 Difference.. Bower spoke to the audience about some of the regulations that will be included in this year’s budget.. One of which is a state rebate incentive for districts to remain under the tax cap.. This sounds great on paper, but as we hear from Bower, most likely won’t amount to much. “The Tax Cap Formula this year is 1.84%. Which allows the board to raise an additional $380,000 in tax levy revenue without exceeding the cap.” Bower said, “If the board stays under the tax cap, the state will issue a rebate which represents the difference between the 2013 levy and the increase. For a $100,000 home, this amount based on current figures would be $12.00 for STAR eligible homes.” The rebate doesn’t apply to businesses or homes that are not eligible for the STAR discount. To shorten a lengthy explanation on the rebate, if your district is able to remain under the tax cap, the state is going to give you a check for the difference between this year and next year.. but if your district goes over the tax cap, you don’t get a check.. so in the scenario that Dan laid out.. that would mean twelve dollars on a one hundred thousand dollar STAR eligible home..
The Saranac Lake School Board is now considering a proposal from Superintendent Diane Fox that would bring the budget in below the tax cap.. which requires a $910,000 reduction in expenses from the status quo to the current budget..The Superintendents proposal does in fact include the reduction of one High School Technology teacher.. But One thing Fox spoke to the students about on Wednesday afternoon was the importance of athletics in the overall picture of education..
The State’s Budget disappointed most North Country School Districts even with an increase in the proposed amounts just a few days before the vote.. Many of the Audience members are in some way affected by the reduction in the school budget, and others are simply members of the community, but all seem to be searching for a way to convince the board to increase the budget and ask the community to go over the tax cap and to keep the teachers and TAs whose jobs will be lost as a result of the cuts…
Aurora White is a newer member of the community – She’s been in the school district for about three years… and she has Two Children in the district, one in seventh and one in third grade.. “I would like the school board to consider increasing the budget and asking for an override vote. The first vote is a free vote isn’t it? Ask the community and if they say no, then go back to the proposed budget” White said. She, along with many of the additional speakers during the public comments received applause from the audience which appeared to be support for the stance the group in the room was taking which is to increase the budget by some additional number between the superintendent’s proposal which is under the tax cap to a number which would provide for those 11.2 teachers and ten Teacher’s Assistants to retain their jobs.. Interestingly, Last week, Superintendent Fox outlined a list of “Add Backs” should the money become available and some of those priorities are different from the audience’s requests, even if the money were to be available.. During her presentation to the board, Superintendent Fox reiterated her position that it’s not possible to simply go to the taxpayers every year to ask for an increase and the need is going to be greater next year. “At some point, we may have to do that, but when that point comes,” Fox Said “I want to make sure that’s what we really need to provide a quality education for our kids, and at this point we are doing it and the budget proposal continues to do that, you can still be proud of the school that you are offering for your students in your community with the budget I’ve Proposed.”
The School Board meets again Wednesday April 9th at which time the deliberations will continue.