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South Lewis budget to raise levy by 1.98 percent

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TURIN — The South Lewis Central School District’s tentative budget would raise the tax levy by 1.98 percent.

“We’d love to see it lower, but it’s not easy,” District Superintendent Douglas E. Premo said.

The tax levy, or total to be raised by property taxes, would increase by $156,997, from $7,989,172 to $8,146,169. Tax rates won’t be determined until town assessment rolls are completed in late summer.

Spending in the proposed budget, adopted recently by the Board of Education, would be $24,575,418, up $16,035 from this year’s $24,559,383; that’s a 0.06 percent increase.

The proposed levy increase is well below the maximum allowable increase, 5.96 percent, under state tax cap rules, Mr. Premo said.

Overall state aid is projected to drop by $192,371, from $14.48 million to $14.29 million, although that loss primarily stems from a reduction in state building aid.

Although operations aid from the state is projected to increase over that of the previous school year, the district still will receive $334,669 less in state aid than it did in 2008-09 because of heavy funding cuts in recent years, Mr. Premo said.

The proposed budget would use $1.49 million from the fund balance, up from $1.43 million in 2013-14.

The primary factors driving up educational spending continue to be salaries, health insurance and state retirement costs, Mr. Premo said.

Plans are to add an elementary teacher because kindergarten classes have been larger than average the past couple of years, while a reading teacher position will be eliminated by attrition, he said.

Because of relatively small classes in the middle school, a middle school reading teacher will replace a retiring one in the elementary school, Mr. Premo said. Although the move slightly will increase class sizes in the middle school, they will remain under 20 students per classroom, he said.

The school also plans to shift other teachers’ duties to add a Spanish 5 class for seniors, with hopes of offering more elective classes in the future, Mr. Premo said.

A public hearing on the proposed budget will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the middle-high school library, while the annual budget vote and Board of Education election will take place from noon to 8 p.m. May 20 in the middle-high school music room.

District voters also will be asked to approve the purchase of three 66-passenger buses for up to $309,250.

Board of Education members Paul W. Campbell and Barry R. Worczak and challengers Scott Chrzanowski and Gregg R. Ielfield are running for two five-year seats.

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