NY budget good news for Tupper Lake school budget

LP Quinn Elementary School.

LP Quinn Elementary School. Photo by Andy Flynn.

— New York state’s newly adopted 2012-13 spending plan spelled good news for the Tupper Lake Central School District, as officials plan to present a budget to voters in May well within the state’s mandated tax cap.

The district will see $44,257 above the expected overall state aid in the 2012-13 school year, Superintendent Seth McGowan told Board of Education members at their April 2 meeting. And $37,399 of that was foundation aid.

“The biggest news that I could possibly hope for was unexpected,” McGowan said. “The fact that foundation aid has been unfrozen, even a little bit, is absolutely significant for school districts in New York state … It’s a sign that perhaps Albany is thinking a little bit differently the way school funding has been run in the past few years and how that’s damaging to schools.”

The Tupper Lake Central School District is looking to propose a budget of $16,012,456 (0.12 percent increase) and a tax levy of $7,315,191. That’s a 3.35 percent rise in the tax levy, which is within the state’s maximum allowable tax levy increase, known widely as a “2 percent tax cap.”

“I want to be clear again that the number ‘2’ percent is meaningless for each individual school district,” McGowan said. “Our target number is 3.42 percent. If we keep our tax levy from rising more than 3.42 percent, we’ve met the requirements of the 2 percent tax cap.”

The formula for the school tax cap starts at a base of 2 percent then takes exemptions and other district needs into consideration.

The state’s maximum allowable tax levy increase for Tupper Lake is 3.42 percent ($242,125).

Based on educational priorities, McGowan told board members that the district will fill some positions: returning a full-time music teacher to the elementary school; creating a library position at the elementary school that will impact the entire district; and hiring a science teacher at the middle/high school that will fill the home and careers position. The district has been forced to cut positions in recent years due to budget constraints.

“From the last three or four years, what we’ve been through, this is a start in the right direction,” said School Board member Dan Mansfield. “Adding is always better than subtracting … It’s good to see we’re moving forward and we’re also watching to keep the taxes down so I think the community knows we’re to do both at the same time. A healthy balance. It’s better than what it was.”‘

The School Board expects to adopt a budget April 17, and residents vote on the spending plan May 15.

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