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Preliminary School Budget Calls for 2 Percent Tax Levy Increase

Officials say the district is in a "revenue squeeze."

Not only will Brewster students in June, but it's likely they'll bid farewell to an administrator, teachers, aides, monitors and more.

At Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting, school administrators proposed an $83,699,419 budget—an increase of 1.8 percent over this year's $82,235,776—for the 2012-2013 academic calendar.

Those numbers could change though, as final fund balance figures have yet to be determined and the district is awaiting word of state aid dollars. 

The budget is the first in which the school district will feel the effects of the new property tax cap. The legislation was enacted in June 2011, starts with the 2012-2013 school year, and is set to expire in June 2016.

Under the cap, the tax levy may not exceed the prior year’s by more than 2 percent, or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. The 2011-2012 budget was a 0.5 percent decrease from the previous year. It increased the tax levy—which is the total amount of property tax revenue collected by the district—by 2.8 percent.

Overriding the cap would require a 60-percent supermajority. Last year, about 58 percent of the 2,206 people who headed to the polls voted in favor of the budget.

If officials adopt the proposed budget and voters pass it, individual school taxes could be lower or higher than 2 percent, depending on the assessment of a resident's home.

"Effectively, what it [the tax cap] does, is it really puts a noose, if you will, on spending, taxes, and it's meant to constrict the programs and the costs that are passed on to our local taxpayers, at the same time that federal and state money is drying up," Tim Conway, deputy superintendent, said during the presentation. "So there's a revenue squeeze all the way around."

Officials said that, because of budget cuts and declining enrollment, they anticipate eliminating one administrator position and the equivalent of 12.5 teaching positions, some of which are already vacant because of prior leaves. That's in addition to slashing several non-instructional positions.

School officials forecast that class sizes will either remain the same or fluctuate by one or two students, depending on the grade level. This year, sizes range for a low of 20 to 21 students in kindergarten classes to 25 to 26 in fifth grades. Administrators did not provide numbers for high school courses.

Click through the photos at right for the slideshow that officials presented, plus more information on the cuts. Check back with Patch for updates in the coming days.


Southeast Resident March 15, 2012 at 11:14 AM
Is there a document available to explain the various images and budget values in this article?
Maryann March 15, 2012 at 12:59 PM
I didn't notice anything about the increase in pay for the superintendent or other administrators. I also didn't see anything about us tax payers paying for their cars, or their continuing education fees, paying for them to get either Masters or Doctoutate Degrees.
Ashley Tarr (Editor) March 15, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Thank you for the comments! Maryann, we have additional stories in the works, so definitely check back soon for follow-up pieces. Southeast resident, if you go to the budget page of the district's website (https://www.brewsterschools.org/site/district_office/budget_12_13/index.html) you'll find links to officials' presentations, as well as links to resources such as "The Three Tax Levy Numbers," "New York's Tax Levy Limit Formula," and "New York's Tax Levy Questions and Answers." I hope that's helpful.
Bob Dumont March 15, 2012 at 03:50 PM
What I find extraordinary in the rank and file of Teachers and School staff is the inability to reduce pay, as many in the private sector have endured in the past 4 years. If I were a dues paying member, I would voluntarily reduce my salary rather then lose my job. What we find is the inflexibility on the part of the schools to negotiate pay - which probably accounts for 85% of the budget. Give it up teachers union! You are eating your own membership and it is the public that has to endure tax increases (even 1.8%) for LESS SERVICE!!!! Tell your union rep you would rather have a job at reduced pay then NO PAY. It is a really tough market out there for teachers as I'm sure they are aware.
John Moormans March 15, 2012 at 05:27 PM
You seem like me during the past year. You really should find someone to speak to the IRS as your representative. Trust me; this process saves you money and time. At this moment, there exists a site that offers pretty much everything specifics of tax relief corporations based on their own study. If only it had been out there last year, since they definitely demonstrate which businesses are unethical and which companies are worthy of looking into. The following is the URL - <a href="http://www.consumertaxreports.org">http://www.consumertaxreports.org</a> . You are able to petition that they check into a business that is not in their Internet site as of yet.
tommy tuohy March 15, 2012 at 09:11 PM
After three consecutive years of laying off teachers, I find it offensive that not one district administrator has been let go. Where is the leadership? Make others do more with less but not them? I am very pleased with the education our children have received and it is because they had great teachers.
Chris March 21, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Definitely agree with Maryann's comments. Many of us folks in the corporate world at the very least agreed to a pay freeze to avoid job cuts. Pay increase for District Office personnel while teachers, aides, etc. are being cut? Only word that comes to mind is disgusting. Something is seriously wrong with this system. And try foiling (Freedom of Information Law) information in regards to the budgets. You will have an easier time acquiring nuclear launch codes from Russia.
Lars Franck March 26, 2012 at 08:22 PM
I wouldn't go so hard on all of those Administrators! I mean, it's hard having to guide your Bimmer in from New Fairfield to put in what amounts to about three hours of work a day for $250K+ and lifetime bennies. Go easy on these folks.
Brewster Resident March 27, 2012 at 02:38 PM
While very sensitive to job cuts whenever mentioned, people have to wake up and realize that the Era of the Union is coming to a close. Our society can no longer afford enriched benefits for a certain segment of society. We are moving to a model where everyone will receive the same benefits - same medical, same dental, same retirement - think of it as global social security or new age socialism. Pensions will no longer exist in 30 years, except for maybe military, police, fire & EMS. While the teachers claim that the kids will suffer that is not the case at all; the kids will continue to get what they have always gotten from teachers that are awesome and that care. What will change is that the benefits received by the teachers (and soon to be all governments workers) will be reduced. So the kids won't suffer, the employees will. And while I concede that ultimately it will reduce the quality of the education the kids receive, it is a fair tradeoff to avoid providing enriched benefits - meaning something on top of what everyone else gets, for 30-40 years long after an employee has stopped working.

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