SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. The proposed 2012-13 school budget for the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns is reasonable for the position that the district is in, Superintendent Howard Smith said.
The district is proposing a $66.66 million budget, up $1.9 million or 2.95 percent from last year. The proposed budget falls within the tax cap. The budget is expected to increase the tax levy by 2.83 percent.
School officials estimate that Tarrytown residents will see a tax rate increase of 2.25 percent and Sleepy Hollow residents will see a tax rate increase of 3.40 percent, although the equalization rates are not yet finalized. Assistant Superintendent for Business John Staiger noted that the proposed budget's tax cap formula will probably change again before the budget vote.
Smith said the district has about 25 percent more students than the last decade, yet there is slightly less staff. The district expects to see more growth. Smith said they've seen growing student populations every year.
It's part of our ongoing reality, he said. It requires resources to address a growing population.
Smith said school officials needed to find $570,000 in the budget to add new teachers in math, special education and second-grade because of mandates and increased enrollment. The tax cap makes it difficult to add new teachers, Smith said.
Reductions and eliminations in the budget to cover the new teachers include sharing one teaching assistant in two classrooms, eliminating a librarian position at the elementary level in favor of teaching assistants and the retirement of a pre-kindergarten social worker.
School officials are also proposing to eliminate sections of foreign language at the middle school for at-risk kids in favor of extra math instruction. Retirements at the high school level in multimedia and clerical will lead to savings because their replacements won't cost as much.
Smith said larger class sizes at Washington Irving Intermediate School were something the district would have liked to address by additional hiring, but they felt they couldn't cut more from the budget to provide for it. Smith estimates that the average fifth-grade class size in 2012-13 would be 27 students, which is slightly higher than the recommended guideline.
The district will hold Saturday budget workshops on March 10, 17 and 31 at 8:30 a.m. in the administration building. The school board will also discuss the budget at its March 22 meeting.
The community will vote on the budget in May.
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