The New Paltz Central School District is proposing a budget above the tax levy state limit for the 2017-2018 academic year, which may still include the termination of some teachers.
The district is proposing a tax levy increase for the budget of 2.4 percent, which will bring the total budget up to $59.04 million and will require a 60 percent voter approval rating in order to pass. This percentage was presented to the Board of Education and community at its annual forum on March 22 following an initial budget presentation at a workshop meeting on March 1.
The budget increase is designed to facilitate several actions: hires will be made in the form of restoring the elementary library media specialist position that was cut two years ago and adding two high school teachers to accommodate for 51 additional students. A supplementary grade 6 teacher will also be needed in efforts to keep the average classroom size under 24 students. However, cuts are also delineated in the budget, as one grade 3-5 and one grade K-2 teacher may need to be removed in order to further ensure the average classroom size is under 24 students. In addition, it is projected that one special education teacher and three special education aides may be released based on the needs of the district.
Superintendent Maria Rice responded to a question about these cuts by sharing some information about who it may affect. She stated that in every area where a teacher or aide may be released, it would be the lowest senior member.
The tax levy limit for New Paltz this year is 1.2 percent, which Assistant Superintendent for Business Richard Linden pointed out is the total tax levy, not a limit on individual tax rates. However, Rice noted that the budget has been over the limit for several years now, discounting last year, and that a 2.4 percent increase was not difficult to accept compared to previous years that exceeded a 4 percent increase.
“We have been improving over the past several years in tax levy increases,” she said. “That’s why the board felt that they could go over the 1.2 percent in order to preserve the educational integrity of the New Paltz Central School District.”
This is the first year in several that the budget does not include a tax levy increase for increasing the number of buses.
At the initial workshop, three budget options were considered: 2.6 percent, 2 percent and 1.2 percent tax levies. Rice stated that administration in the school district was directed by the board to create a 2.4 percent tax levy increase for the budget following issues stemming from the other three, especially the 1.2 percent increase, which would result in large cuts in various programs.
A finalized budget will be presented to voters on Tuesday, May 16.