The Edgemont School Administration proposed their 2012-13 school budget of $50,016,261, that includes a minimal spending increase of .31% over the current year's budget of $49,861,858. The proposed budget will result in a projected tax-rate increase of 3.42% that falls within the 2% New York State tax cap by factoring in a growth factor of 1.02% and including exemptions for capital expenditures, debt service and increases in the pension payment that exceed 2%.
The 3.42% tax levy increase is higher than the .31% budget-to-budget increase because tax assessments have significantly decreased assessed value. Commercial tax certioraris caused the district to refund money to commercial property owners for taxes overpaid in previous years and to also lower the assessed value of the properties for the future. In addition over 200 homeowners have filed for residential assessment reductions. The district expects close to a million dollars less in assessments from 2011-2012 and the decline in Edgemont's tax base will continue to pose challenges for the district.
The proposed school budget will require structural changes in the district, including the loss of teacher’s jobs and changes in programs and services. There will be a district-wide reduction in staff with head count cuts from 186 to 178 professionals. Some staff members will work fewer hours and others will be let go. There will be a loss of 1.5 full-time teaching positions in kindergarten through sixth grade and 5.15 positions at the secondary school level. Projected enrollment decreases contributed to the teacher cuts, especially at the elementary level. At the high school, the loss of teaching positions is due to the discontinuation of the Study Skills for Success program and the elimination of English and history electives. Other cost-savings measures could include the following:
- Some electives that are now offered every year will be offered in alternating years.
- The A school may be restructured
- There may be increases in class size
- Entry into the Science Scholars program may be delayed until tenth grade.
Sixth and ninth grade camps for the students will be discontinued. Modified sports will continue to be offered and though there will be no cuts to athletic teams, the teams will participate in fewer invitational tournaments, saving money on transportation and related expenses. The budget does allow for essential maintenance projects including $400,000 for new windows at Seely Place elementary school, the oldest of the district buildings. Funds for supplies and textbooks are down eight percent and all music consultants, except for the strings consultant, have been eliminated.
Many parents are concerned about the loss of teachers and have expressed these concerns to the administration. Others are upset that the 6th and 9th grade camps, a longstanding tradition in Edgemont have been suspended. The administration decided not to attempt to override the 2% cap by a vote of 60%, as this is the first year of the property tax levy cap. But administrators believe that the proposed budget preserves the Edgemont educational program.
The next BOE Meeting will be on Tuesday, February 14th at 8:15pm in the LGI. On February 15th, the Board will hold two budget forums, one at 9:00 am in the EHS Library and an evening "Budget 101" session at 7:30 pm in the LGI. If approved by the Board of Education, the budget will be put to a full vote of the community on May 15th. As the budget increase is under the property tax cap, it only needs to be approved by a majority vote, rather than the super majority of 60% for budgets that exceed the cap.