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Norwood-Norfolk board members approve 0.26 percent tax levy increase

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NORFOLK - Norwood-Norfolk Central School officials will be presenting voters with a 2012-13 spending plan that calls for a 0.26 percent tax levy increase and proposes eliminating positions through retirement and reductions.

School board members approved the budget Monday night, but Superintendent Elizabeth A. Kirnie said the proposed position reductions aren’t yet a given.

“All of the staff cuts and position cuts are proposed. We’re still working on what’s best for kids, which means that the proposed cuts through attrition as well as adjustments in staff size are still on the table, probably until our June meeting,” she said Tuesday.

“The board is not going to finalize by eliminating any positions until after the (May 15) budget vote, until we have enough time to fully examine the implication of all of the cuts,” Mrs. Kirnie said.

Business Manager Lisa M. Mitras had proposed last week that board members consider reductions of 1.5 full-time equivalent teaching assistants, two full-time equivalent 7-12 math and English teachers, one full-time equivalent K-6 teacher and a 0.4 full-time equivalent BOCES counselor, to go along with retirements of one full-time equivalent teacher assistant, one full-time equivalent music teacher, one full-time equivalent 7-12 social studies teacher and one full-time equivalent supervisor for operations and maintenance.

The operations and maintenance position would be replaced by a 0.4 full-time equivalent shared facilities director through the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Ms. Mitras had also recommended that administrators be reduced from 12 to 11 months in another cost-cutting measure.

Following a budget workshop last week, board members had entered executive session to discuss their options after some of them, along with teachers in the audience, shared their concerns about the loss of positions.

“We want to get as creative as possible” to save positions and programs, Mrs. Kirnie said.

That could include examining further use of services provided by the Board of Cooperative Educational Services down the road, she said.

“Down the road we do plan to strategically use BOCES services as they come up. For example, as there are retirements, we can appropriately share through BOCES. That is always on the table. It is in the long term beneficial to the district,” Mrs. Kirnie said.

The 2012-13 budget calls for $18.6 million in revenue and the use of $463,770 in reserves and $465,279 in appropriated fund balance - a projected expenditure budget of $19.5 million.

The 0.26 percent tax levy increase is a $15,649 increase over 2011-12. District officials had presented voters with a $19.2 million 2011-12 budget that carried a 5.82 percent tax levy hike last year, and that was narrowly approved by a 288-286 margin.

With board members opting for the 0.26 percent increase rather than another higher option, they’ll need the approval of 50 percent plus one of the voters. If they had opted to go above that limit to 1, 1.5 or 2 percent, would have needed 60 percent voter approval.

The 2011-12 tax rate in the district was $26.05 per $1,000 of assessed value for property owners in the town of Potsdam and $30.50 per $1,000 for property owners in the town of Norfolk.

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