Chatham school board ponders 2.2% tax rise

CHATHAM–Schools Superintendent Cheryl Nuciforo presented the preliminary 2012-13 school board to the board of education at the board’s regular meeting this week.

She is recommending a $28.2 million budget, a spending increase of 4.7%. But the tax levy increase would be 2.2%, which is the amount allowed by the state under the property tax cap. The board has to review and approve the recommendations before the budget plan goes before the voters next month.

At the April 3 meeting Ms. Nuciforo presented to the board with a line-by-line budget proposal, as well as a five-year fiscal plan that the district has been working on. The recommended budget contains some personnel cuts, including a custodian, four teaching assistants, one teacher and one counselor.

Board President John Wapner stressed that the cuts would not mean a reduction in services.

There will be some additions to the staff as well, like a reading teacher for the elementary school, a special education director that the district will share with New Lebanon and a part-time instrumental music teacher. There would also be some changes in the administrative staff, with a dean instead an assistant principal in the middle school.

Ms. Nuciforo said she will be going out to the community to discuss the budget, as she and board members have done in the past. She is scheduling those visits now.

Board member James Cartin asked why the administration was not keeping the budget at a 2% tax levy increase instead going to the maximum allowed levy of 2.2%. Interim Business Administrator Chuck Snyder said that he has talked to other school business administrators in the county and most are recommending the same approach. “They are staying up to the cap but not exceeding it,” he said. If a district wants to exceed the tax cap voters must adopt the budget by a supermajority of 60% plus one vote.

The board also has plans to put a proposition on the May 15 ballot calling for the purchase of two full-size buses and a Suburban for a total of $249,660.

The board plans to approve a proposed budget at the April 17 meeting. The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the Chatham Elementary School.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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