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School budget approved with 2.98 percent tax levy increase

PLATTSBURGH - The budget being put forth by the Plattsburgh City School District has been approved by the district board of education.

If adopted, the spending plan would increase taxes by slightly less than three percent.

The $38,399,039 budget for the 2011-12 school year was approved by the board April 14, and includes a 2.3 percent increase over the current budget of $37,519,424.

Though the budget that will be put before voters next month is up compared to the one for the current school year, district superintendent James "Jake" Short said the figure is the result of careful scrutiny and many hours of weighing options to keep the cost down for taxpayers.

The district utilized $1.9 million from its fund balance and another $479,000 from its reserve fund to offset a "strong reduction" in state aid of $2,438,226 and other increases in the cost of doing business as school district, Short said.

"It clearly is a difficult balancing act," Short said.

The result is a budget that contains a 2.98 percent increase in the tax levy - the total amount to be raised by taxes - from $18,755,740 to $19,314,881.

The budget also contains a tax rate estimated at $21.53 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That would result, for example, in a property valued at $50,000 seeing a school tax bill of approximately $1,076.50.

The current tax rate is $20.96 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Short emphasized the tax rate is only a projected figure.

"That actually can be significantly lower, depending on how assessments come in May," said Short, referring to assessment that will be performed by the county.

The budget eliminates more than two administrative positions, 10 instructional positions and three full-time and three part-time student support staff members.

"The cuts and reductions we did came out of the secondary [school] for the most part because we have lower enrollment courses in the secondary," explained Short. "So, basically, we're right-sizing those enrollments, not sweeping out and cutting programs away from kids ... It's painful, but appropriate management."

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