by Nicole Reitz
The Phoenix Central School District presented the first draft of next school year’s budget last Monday.
The proposed budget eliminates programs and increases the tax levy in an attempt to close a projected $1.6 million budget gap.
Under a plan presented by Karl Seckner, the district’s business administrator, property owners in Phoenix would experience a 1.6-percent tax levy increase. A 4.45 percent tax levy is allowable without a super majority vote.
With program cuts and reserve spending, another $1.3 million would be trimmed from the proposed $42.7 million budget.
Phoenix’s expenditures are projected to raise to 3.6 percent — more than five times than its state aid.
“I don’t know how many more years we can continue to cut the state aid and still have quality programs for our students,” said Superintendent Judy Belfield.
Seckner advised the board of education to consider eliminating the $100,000 minor project fund and $77,000 for the Oasis Summer Reading Program. The reading program runs for 16 sessions and enrolls 100 students during summer recess.
Board members discussed the effectiveness of the reading program and whether the elimination would, in the long run, cost the school more money in extra supports for those students.
“Do you want to lose the program or do you want to lose a teacher? Because that $77,000 is a teacher,” said Seckner.
With seven teachers filing for retirement, the district will save $514,000 through attrition. Of those teachers, the board would only consider replacing two positions: an instructional specialist and a high school physics teacher.
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