ICC board reviews $39.8M budget prop, hoping for more

KINDERHOOK – The Ichabod Crane School Board reviewed the proposed $38.9 million school budget for 2017-18 last week. The proposed spending plan shows a 2.22% increase from the current budget, but the budget’s proposed tax levy comes in under the state tax property cap, which this year is at 1.47%.

School Superintendent George Zini said that when putting together the budget they used the state aid numbers from the governor since the legislator had not passed a final state budget by the April 4 meeting. The district should receive about $14.8 million in aid. He did say the district could receive more aid after the state budget was finalized.

On April 7 Governor Cuomo announced an agreement on the state budget, and the state Assembly worked into the early morning hours Saturday to approve the plan. The state Senate was not in session over the weekend but is expected to approve the plan in the next few days.

“There are no cuts of program or staffing in this budget,” Mr. Zini said last week before the governor’s announcement. “We are able to maintain the services that we have,” he told the board.

If more aid is in the approved state budget, he said the district has plans to add a few new positions, like a district-wide instructional technology specialist, and to increase the salary for substitute maintenance workers. He also said the board could approve increasing the $500,000 that is proposed to go into reserves to $600,000, which is the amount the district put in reserve last year.

The board will make final changes to the budget at a special meeting on Wednesday, April 12 at 7 p.m. They must adopt the proposed budget at that meeting so that they can host the annual budget hearing  May 2 at 7 p.m. with a Meet the Candidates forum at 6 p.m. There are four open board seats this year.  The annual election on the budget and for board members is May 16.

The board also plans to put a bus purchase proposal on the ballot for $477,789. The proposition, if approved by voters, would fund the purchase of two 28-passenger buses, three 72-passenger buses and one van. Mr. Zini said the district has annually put forward a bus purchasing proposal but that this year the board is asking to borrow more money. He said the district did not replace buses in 2011-12 and now it is catching-up. He said replacing the buses “keeps our buses safe.”

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