By Nicole a. Elliott Staff writer
WESTMORELAND — The Westmoreland Central School Board of Education adopted an $18.4 million 2012-13 spending plan that calls for an increase in spending with the amount to be raised by taxes, while it maintains staffing levels and programs.
The board will present the proposed $18,394,566 budget to district voters during a public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 1 at the high school auditorium. The regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and then adjourn to begin the public hearing.
The total $18,394,566 2012-13 spending plan is a budget-to-budget increase of $504,625, or 2.82 percent compared to 2011-12. Total tax levy, or amount to be raised by taxes, is $7,493,010, an increase of $204,089 or 2.80 percent compared to the current budget.
Business Administrator Mark Kennedy said there are no lay-offs or reductions in programming because of concessions agreed to by employees last school year.
"The salary freeze (for teachers) that was agreed to last year and savings in health insurance — going to a three-tier prescription drug program — put us in a much better spot for this year," Kennedy said. "Coming into this year, we knew it was not going to be a great year" as far as state aid funding made available, "so we curtailed our spending quite a bit. We contained every program, and the only cuts we made were to a couple athletic teams based solely on the lack of participation numbers. We had a couple J-V (junior varsity) teams consolidated and we made them modified varsity."
Total state aid that the school district is slated to receive in the 2012-13 school year, including Gap Elimination Adjustment funding, is $8,511,016, an increase of $382,807, or 4.71 percent.
District officials said the majority of increases in the 2012-13 spending plan are due to increases in salaries and benefits. Current enrollment district-wide is 961, and Kennedy said the district expects it to remain about the same in 2012-13. The fund balance appropriated in the 2012-13 budget has increased from $1,503,139 to $1,600,000. Spending will be frozen and only discretionary purchases will be allowed, officials said.
Tax rates for the 2012-13 school year will not be available until August after individual towns have completed their property assessments. The following are the current tax rates of component towns in the district:
¿ Westmoreland: $34.55 per $1,000 assessed valuation.
¿ Whitestown: $31.19 per $1,000 assessed valuation.
¿ Rome: $29.94 per $1,000 assessed valuation.
¿ Vernon: $31.19 per $1,000 assessed valuation.
The board also passed a resolution to include the purchase of two new 66-passenger buses and selling or trading in three buses: a 1994 with 167,409 miles; a 1994 with 125,310 miles; and a 1999 with 144,909 miles. At a Board of Education meeting held in March, Transportation Supervisor Victor Cardillo also proposed donating a 1991 bus with 60,998 miles to the Pride Pack band boosters. Cardillo said he would keep two spare buses, a 1995 with 103,565 miles and a 2000 bus with 162,734 miles.
Total cost of the two new buses is not to exceed $212,868 total. If the bus resolution is approved, which will appear on the 2012-13 budget ballot, Westmoreland’s fleet would be up to 22, including the two spare vehicles. The district did not purchase buses during the 2011-12 school year.
Two seats on the seven-member board are also up for election this year. Incumbents Charlene Hartman and John Acee II are so far running to regain their three-year seats unopposed. The deadline to acquire a nomination petition for the Board of Education has been extended to May 3. Forms must be picked up at the district office, 5176 Route 233.
The public vote on the 2012-13 budget is Tuesday, May 15.