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St. Lawrence Central to hold budget hearing Tuesday night

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BRASHER FALLS - The public will have an opportunity to weigh in tonight on St. Lawrence Central School’s 2013-14 budget proposal, which carries a 3.90 percent tax levy increas, but cuts no positions.

“We’ve cut so many over the last several years,” Superintendent Stephen M. Putman said.

They had presented voters last year with an $18.9 million spending plan that carried a 3.28 percent tax levy increase.

That budget, which was approved by voters by a 309-94 margin last May, decreased spending by 0.68 percent. But it came with cuts, eliminating three positions - a teacher’s assistant post and realignment of teachers in the elementary school that equated to two position cuts.

Those cuts came on top of 23.2 positions that had already been cut the previous two years. Those included one social studies teacher, 1.4 elementary teachers, two science teachers, a 0.33 Spanish teacher, one English teacher, a 0.4 art teacher, 1.33 special education teachers, a 0.33 business teacher, 2.5 teacher aides,1.4 teaching assistants and one administrator.

Other cuts included a 0.5 maintenance worker, 2.5 cleaners, one bus driver, one nurse and a 0.5 technology coordinator.

Besides personnel cuts, there were also reductions to some school programs, such as the elimination of the grades seven and eight class advisers and the cutting of most junior varsity athletic teams. The Outing Club, Students Against Drunk Driving and Students for Environmental Awareness groups were also eliminated.

This year, however, Mr. Putman said they were able to stave off any cuts. One position, a math teacher, will be eliminated through attrition. That teacher is retiring at the end of the current school year, and her post will not be filled.

Facing increased costs, the 2013-14 budget proposal is a 5.01 percent increase over the district’s $18.9 million 2012-13 budget. Among the increases are an 8.5 percent jump - $184,000 - in health insurance costs along with a $186,000 increase in contributions to the teacher retirement system and a $12,000 increase in contributions to the employee retirement system.

“We had a significant increase in state aid. But the increase in state aid is just about enough to cover the increase in things that are out of our control,” Mr. Putman said, noting the health insurance and retirement contributions alone “pretty much equal the state aid increase.”

District officials are allocating $850,000 from their appropriated fund balance to help close the gap between expenditures and revenues.

But there are more challenges on the horizon, according to Mr. Putman.

“What’s tricky right now is all of our labor contracts are up on June 30,” he said. “We’re at the table negotiating.”

Tuesday’s budget hearing begins at 6 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

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