By Debra J. Groom
The Phoenix school board has adopted a $42,559,049 budget for the 2014-15 school year.
Residents will vote on the budget May 20. They also will elect three members to the board of education. Petitions to run for the school board must be turned in by Monday.
The proposed budget for 2014-15 is up 1.99 percent – or $550,122 – over the budget for the current school year. It does not cut any academic programs, athletics or extracurricular activities.
The OASIS summer reading program is being cut for the summer of 2014, but Superintendent Judith Belfield said it could be revisited for the summer of 2015.
Spending is up only 1.33 percent. Mos of the increase comes from increased pension costs associated with the fiscal downturn of 2008.
Belfield the district received more state aid in the final state budget than originally was proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. This additional aid – about $300,000 – and the retirement of 10 teachers and five teacher assistants this year helped the district put together a budget that did not include staff and/or teacher layoffs.
The proposed budget includes money to replace some of the teachers who are retiring.
“We are replacing two K-6 teachers, a chemistry teacher, an instructional specialist and a special education teacher,” Belfield said. The budget also includes two new positions – a special education teacher and an elementary reading teacher.
Also, two part-time teaching positions are being increased from half time to full time – a high school social studies teacher and a high school Spanish teacher.
Belfield said the budget increases the tax levy – which is the amount to be raised by taxes – by 1.99 percent or $326,858. The estimated tax rate for most towns in the school district would be about $28.26 per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of 55 cents per $1,000 from the current rate of $27.71 per $1,000.
Since the tax levy increase is less than the state-mandated cap placed on municipalities and school districts, residents will qualify for a refund of the tax increase from the state due to a proposal in the new state budget.
In addition to the budget and school board members, residents also will decide on whether to spend $429,200 to buy three 60-passenger school buses, one special needs bus and a camera system.
The public hearing on the budget will be at 7 p.m.May 6 at John C. Birdlebough High School. The vote is noon to 9 p.m. May 20 at Emerson J. Dillon Middle School.