The approved a $54,621,025 budget for 2012-2013 at the last BOE meeting, representing a .83 percent increase over the 2011-2012 budget and a $256,631 increase in spending with a 2.12 tax levy increase. The budget will go up for public vote on May 15 from 2-10 p.m. at .
The budget reflects an adjusted $275,000 increase in state aid for the coming year, granted by the State Legislature earlier that evening. "The budget is going up but the tax levy is staying exactly as presented, within the tax cap amount," said Superintendent Peter Scordo, who added that Elwood has gotten a significant increase in state aid in comparison to neighboring districts.
Members of the BOE thanked the administration and the community for their efforts in helping the BOE maintain a budget within the constrictions of the tax cap. They also thanked the Citizens Finance/Budgeting Advisory Committee (CFBAC) for their work on the cafeteria plan and transportation, and for recognizing other cost-cutting measures.
"While we can't predict what the future will hold, at least for this year, we have held on to the integrity of our extracurricular educational programs, we're still providing children with opportunities, we're improving our curriculum, we're taking risks...but they have to be taken as we move forward," said Vice President Dan Ciccone. "None of this would be happening without the skills and talent and experience of our entire administrative staff, because teacher's teach and they do that well but they don't run schools or manage budgets. I will tell you that what you see here is only a fraction of the work that really gets done."
Approximately 11 staff positions will be eliminated next year, mainly due to the restructuring at the middle school and high school which allow the District to streamline costs while at the same time align courses with the Common Core Learning Standards. Several elementary positions will also be cut, mostly as the result of declining enrollment at the K-1 levels. There are additional reductions associated with the proposed spending plan (as detailed on page 2 of the attached PDF newsletter); however, the budget preserves all athletic, music, and extracurricular activities for students.
Trustee Andrew Kaplan took a moment to reflect toward the end of the presentation upon job cuts reflected in the budget, saying that it pains him to see the loss of teacher jobs in the community.
"It's not directly because of this budget, but because of the mandates. You saw in this budget we had to find $125,000 for the newly enacted APPR-- that's money that surely could have done a lot more benefit to our classroom than it's going to do in regards to that process that's been mandated and not supported he said," he said. "Again, excessive legislation without the required relief, does not create jobs, but causes a loss of jobs and a loss of services to our children."
Should the proposed budget be defeated when it goes to public vote, the Board of Education has two options: it can either present the same budget or a revised budget to voters for a second vote in mid-June; or it can vote to adopt a contingency budget. As in the past, if the budget is defeated for a second time, districts must adopt a contingency spending plan. For 2012-13, the law states that districts must hold their tax levies to the 2011-12 level; this means that the allowable tax levy increase is 0 percent. For Elwood, a contingency budget with a tax levy increase of 0% would call for an additional cut of $846,957.
PDFs of the proposed budget as well as the district's budget newsletter are attached to this article.