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School budget is up 2.5%, tax levy 6.8%

Saturday, March 23, 2013 - Updated: 8:58 AM

By PETE KLEIN

Express News Staff

INDIAN LAKE – Indian Lake Central School Board of Education members feel the most recent draft budget for the 2013/14 school year is probably the best they can achieve without cutting programs they believe are essential.

This means exceeding this year’s allowable tax levy cap increase of 3.26 percent. That can be done if 60 percent or more voters approve the budget.

The budget is down from the first draft seen in February by $21,262, to $5.97 million. This school year’s appropriations are $5.82 million, so appropriations are up by $143,151.

Comparing the draft budget to the 2012/13 budget shows a drop in estimated revenues of $154,012, from $1.48 million to $1.33 million, due to cuts in state aid. If all the cuts were restored the tax levy would go up 3.78 percent, still above the 3.26 percent cap.

Subtracting estimated revenues from appropriations leaves $4.64 million to be raised by the tax levy.

While appropriations are up 2.45 percent from the current budget, the tax levy is currently up 6.8 percent, which means the tax rate will go up too.

The 2012 tax rate was $6.66 per $1,000 of assessed value. The current estimated tax rate for 2013 is $7.12, a difference of 45.6 cents.

This means the school tax for a property assessed at $100,000 would go up by $45.60, from $665.99 to $711.59.

The BOE continues to hope some of the cuts in state aid revenues will be restored before the budget goes to the voters in May.

TO MERGE OR NOT

Superintendent Mark Brand gave a presentation on local school district demographic profile trends produced by Cornell University when the BOE met Thursday, March 21.

The study allows school districts to compare their districts with adjoining districts to learn if a merger would make economic sense.

According to the graphs and charts shown in the Cornell analysis, currently there would not be any economic advantage for Indian Lake to merge with either Long Lake or Johnsburg.

The deciding factor, said Brand, is what is called the Local Revenue Effort Rate and how it relates to the first year incentive aid the state would provide if two districts merge.

If it is more than 10 percent of the first year's incentive aid, Brand said, it would probably be a bad idea for taxpayers if the schools were to merge.

If Indian Lake were to merge with Long Lake, for example, the Cornell analysis shows the first year of the merger represents 3,808.3 percent of the first year incentive aid - way in excess of the recommended 10 percent maximum.

To see the Cornell study go to pad.human.cornell.edu/. Under 'Data' click on 'NY Counties' or 'School districts.'

The board agreed to hold a special meeting for a third look at the budget Wednesday, April 10, starting at 6 p.m. in the school cafeteria.

PROM POLICY

For years there has not been a policy at Indian Lake Central School concerning the age or school enrollment status of a prom date. When the Board of Education met Thursday, March 21, it became a hot topic for two reasons.

First, the BOE had before it a recommendation from the Shared Decision Making Committee to restrict prom attendees to those currently in school, excluding those who have graduated.

The suggestion came under fire because current student Kyle Douglas has made plans to attend his Senior Prom with last year’s valedictorian, Alyssa Cuthbert.

Douglas asked the BOE to at the least grant him an exception to the proposed policy because he has already made plans to bring Cuthbert, has ordered a tuxedo and only recently learned of the proposed policy. He stated he would not attend the prom if he were not allowed to bring Cuthbert.

The board members agree there should be a policy, but were uncertain the proposed policy should be adopted at a point so close to when the prom would be held.

There was also agreement that a policy should at the very least exclude anyone who is age 21 or older, because of concern an older date might want to drink alcoholic beverages before or after the prom.

The Shared Decision Making Committee is required under state Education Law. It is composed of parents, students, other townspeople, teachers, administrators and staff. Its recommendations are not binding upon the BOE, but must be considered.

BOE Member Bob Lewin led the discussion to a conclusion when he suggested, “For this year, let’s put an age limit of 20 to attend the prom and come up with a policy for next year.”

BOE Member Michelle Hutchins said she would like information on what other schools are doing before coming up with a policy.

This led to the board adopting the age 20 rule for now and agreeing to work on a policy for next year.

Douglas thanked the board for its decision, which will allow him to escort Cuthbert to the prom.

     

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