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NCCS proposed budget shows no tax increase PDF Print E-mail
Written by SUZANNE MOORE, Staff Writer   
Monday, April 02, 2007

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.


SAME TAX RATE

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.


FINE-TUNING

At the session, the board fine-tuned the spending plan to achieve the zero rate increase.
Among the adjustments were:

  • About $33,000 included for the computer-replacement program. The Technology Committee had requested $60,000 to create a line item to provide for rotating replacement of computers; with $26,000 already available from state aid, the board opted to pitch in the difference.
  • A $7,000 reduction for classroom furniture from an original allocation of about $33,000.
  • A cut of $18,000 that would have refurbished the floors of two buses.
  • A decrease of $16,000 requested to repair a lift in the bus garage, as fuel savings this year make that money available now.
  • A cut of $6,000 for textbooks.

  • "I don't know if I would support that cut," said board member Stephen Novacich. The students "are still using books that are too old."
    Much textbook money in the past was used to purchase materials teachers needed to prepare students for the mandatory assessment exams, said Superintendent Robert Hebert, with the existing books used as backup.
    But allocations for next year will not only put a new English Language Arts series in the elementary buildings but also buy a math series for the Middle School.
    "We are making strides in that direction," Hebert said.
  • A cut of $6,000 for sports uniforms that can be purchased this year with excess money.
  • $4,500 less for hockey ice time.

  • "They would like more ice time but can live with what they have," business manager Bill Knaust said.
  • A cut of $3,000 for a new set of bleachers ($3,000 remains budgeted for another set).
  • $4,000 less for actuary services, initially estimated too high.


  • SPLIT DECISION

    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.


    BUS PROPOSITION

    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.

     

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