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Putnam CSD prepares for 15-16 with new budget

Photo by Nancy Frasier.

— The Putnam Central School District will stay within the property tax levy cap in 2014-15, which is enough to satisfy Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “tax freeze” plan.

For the following year, though, the state will also require school districts to show consolidation efforts that save one percent on the budget, something Superintendent Matthew Boucher said there is no room for in the near 40-student enrollment school.

“We have already consolidated all that we can,” Boucher said. “We are at a minimum to function in our business office, and the comptroller reminds us of that every year. The town already helps us with winter plowing and summer work and our transportation is contracted out. If they ask for past consolidation efforts, then we are fine. If they want anything new, the only thing left is the school.”

To prepare for the potential of having to reduce its budget next year, the Putnam spending plan for PreK through sixth grade operations call for a 3.94 percent increase in spending, from $2,249,218 in 2013-14 to $2,337,837 for 2014-15.

The tax levy to go with the school board-adopted spending plan would be $1,758,937, up 1.46 percent from the 2013-14 levy of 1,725,638.

“The previous six years we have had the lowest budget and tax levy increases in the state,” Boucher said. “When you do not have a large budget, small changes can make a big difference to the percentage.”

The budget calls for the use of $234,600 in fund balance, up from $193,385 used in the 2013-14 budget.

Boucher said the school is currently at staffing minimums to qualify for state aid so there could be no position cuts. However, based on student enrollment trends, the district will be hiring a half-time special education position in the coming school year.

“Fiscally, the school is in really good shape,” Boucher said. “We have a great teaching staff. We always want to have more students, but things are good right now in the district.”

Along with the budget and school board votes, the district is also presenting a referendum to voters to approve the transfer of $20,000 to a capital reserve fund for anticipated projects on the school’s roof and other infrastructure projects.

The Putnam budget vote will be held Tuesday, May 20, from 1 to 9 p.m. at the school.

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