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General Brown BOE adopts $21.1 million 2013-14 spending plan

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DEXTER — The Board of Education adopted its $21,096,729 spending plan for 2013-14 on Monday, saving some academic programming while also trimming expenses.

With the adoption of the General Brown Central School District budget came a 9.9 percent increase to the tax levy, or amount to be raised by taxes, from the current $6,384,854 to $7,016,955. The 2013-14 budget increased about 1.3 percent, or $267,318, from the 2012-13 spending plan.

Because the budget comes with a tax levy increase higher than 5.3 percent, the district’s tax cap, at least 60 percent of the people who head to the polls May 21 to vote on the proposal must approve it. While many residents supported a larger tax levy increase, to the tune of 22.4 percent, to avoid any cuts, some board members echoed opinions from district taxpayers who said they wouldn’t or couldn’t support a tax levy increase to that extent.

“I have not heard broad-based support for a double-digit increase,” said Tasha L. Richards, board president.

Vice President Jeffrey West said board members will hear differences of opinion, as many people with whom he spoke would have supported a double-digit tax levy increase. During the earlier part of the discussion at the board’s monthly meeting Monday at the junior-senior high school, 17643 Cemetery Road, Mr. West suggested the tax levy increase should be between 14.9 percent and 19 percent.

Member Bruce C. Strough said if some cuts or reductions weren’t made now, the board would just have to revisit the same issues next school year.

“Some of the jobs have to go,” he said.

After just over a 90-minute discussion on budget priorities, board members agreed to cut junior varsity sports, leaving seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade students to play modified sports and 10th-, 11th- and 12th- graders to play varsity sports. Other decisions included elimination of a consultant psychologist, a physical education teacher and general aides, and a reduction in the number of teaching assistants and summer workers. Several positions, including as a physics teacher, family and consumer science teacher, library media specialist and technology teacher, have been reduced to half-time.

Those cuts mean fewer electives offered, and teachers may receive more responsibilities in the classroom.

Originally on the list to be cut was the assistant transportation director position, held by Steven M. Flath. Cutting the position would have saved $26,500, but some board members said that wasn’t worth students’ safety. District Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr. also said the administration did not recommend cutting that position.

Mr. Flath spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, and told board members the transportation department is already a little short-staffed because of past cuts. After the meeting, Mr. Flath said he will continue to multitask and be as efficient as he can in the transportation department.

Board member Michael E. Kucharski said he was happy with the work board members did Monday, but he questioned whether voters would approve a 9.9 percent tax increase.

Meanwhile, Penny J. Price, co-organizer of a grass-roots effort to educate district residents about the budget, said she and her group will soon hit the streets to help people understand why the district came to dire financial straights. Although the unappropriated fund balance has been depleted, a reduction in state aid has made the district suffer more, she said.

She said she is looking for volunteers to help her and a few others go door to door for the campaign. People interested in helping can email her at penny@nnyrealtor.com.

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