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School levies rise as state aid drops

The trickle-down effect of financial troubles at the state level will be felt in many local school districts this year as school boards struggle to keep tax levies down while making up for the loss of thousands in state aid.

Voting on proposed school budgets for all area schools will take place May 18, and voters can expect to see at least moderate increases in every district. Contact your local school district for information on when and where polls will be open.

AuSable Valley

Under Gov. David Paterson's deficit reduction plan, the AuSable Valley Central School District was expected to lose $870,779 in state aid. Superintendent Paul Savage, II is hoping at least $357,000 will be restored by the State Legislature.

"Although the governor states that "most schools" will be able to cover the aid reduction with their existing fund balances, we are certainly not one of those districts," said Savage, noting that the cut represents nearly half of the school district's fund balance.

"We have done our very best to build a modest reserve under good fiscal management, within the state guidelines, and with a desire to protect taxpayers in tough times. Now we are being penalized for following such guidelines."

The proposed budget for 2010-2011 will increase $201,256 from the current year's to a total of more than $25.5 million, a 0.76 percent rise. Likewise, the tax levy will rise $301,823 to just above $11 million, a 3.1 percent increase.

The resulting 3.1 percent tax rate increase will take the per-thousand rate from $14.96 to $15.43.

The increases come despite a scaling-back of staffing, which includes the loss of three teaching positions due to attrition and one due to a leave of absence. One position for a licensed practical nurse is also planned to be cut.

The proposed budget reduces contractual and supply expenses by 25 percent, delays computer purchases for one year, and reduces funds for curriculum development during the summer and character education programs during the year.

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