CHAMPLAIN — The Outdoor Education Project lives on in the proposed 2007-08 Northeastern Clinton Central School budget, as does North Country Model United Nations.And after much discussion, the School Board decided driver's education should rev up again for half the school year.
With programs intact and no staff cuts, the $25 million spending plan would keep the tax rate at status quo — $22.11 per $1,000 assessed property value."It's a good idea we should come in at zero," said board member Orville Nedeau at the final budget meeting on the proposed plan, held last week. "We have to show fiscal restraint to the taxpayers."At $25,547,000, the budget is up just under 5 percent over that of 2006-07. Helping keep the tax rate the same is an expected $700,000 in additional state aid and a total property assessment that's grown about $21.6 million.The spending plan includes about $200,000 to fund a new Response to Intervention (RTI) reading program that will begin in September for grades kindergarten through 2.
At the session, the board fine-tuned the spending plan to achieve the zero rate increase.Among the adjustments were:
Drivers ed just squeaked by.At $30,000 for instructor and car rental, the program would instruct about 30 students during its one semester."I think it's a wonderful program, but I don't think it serves enough people," said board member Silva Mary Marnes.Board member Orville Nedeau agreed with the value of the class but, he wondered, "is this a one-shot deal? Are we committed to four or five years?"As well, it concerned him that demand for the course would exceed availability. How would it be determined which students got selected, he asked."I just want it to be fair."Maybe dropping the program would reduce the tax rate below its present figure, which would help pass the budget, Novacich suggested."I was upset it was taken out last year," said parent Terry Bechard. "We spend a lot of money for hockey for a handful of kids but we can't spend it for drivers education?"Skills taught in that class, she said, can save lives on the road.The vote tied at 3-3, which meant the program stayed in the budget.
The board will likely vote on the spending plan at its next regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.Included, too, is a proposition authorizing purchase of five full-size buses at a total cost of about $430,000, along with two vans on which the district still awaits price.Taxpayers would kick in somewhere in the range of 23 cents per $1,000 property evaluation, 90 percent of which would come back from state aid.Voters will go to the polls Tuesday, May 15, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Mooers Elementary and at the Middle/High School in Champlain.