By DAVE GYMBURCH Staff writer

HOLLAND PATENT — A public hearing will be held Tuesday night on a 2012-13 Holland Patent school district budget with a 1.9 percent tax levy increase that district officials say is less than the 3.11 percent allowable under tax-cap guidelines.

The hearing on the $27.84 million spending plan, which is down about $500,000 from the current 2011-12 budget, will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Holland Patent high school. The budget will be presented for district voters’ approval in the May 15 public election.

Programs affected in the budget would involve deletions of golf and winter cheerleading teams due to declining interest, plus halting 7th grade French and Spanish classes that had been added two years ago, said Superintendent Kathleen Davis. In addition, providers of pre-K programs would be adjusted.

Helping to balance the budget are pay freezes that administrators and support staffers have accepted for 2012-13, Davis said. About 13 staff positions would be eliminated through layoffs and attrition, including teaching, administrative and non-instructional slots.

The budget has been adopted by the Board of Education, Davis observed, but the board "reserves the right to make any necessary changes" in spending categories within the total dollar amount. She said "we don’t anticipate anything out of the ordinary." The budget overall "protects programs for children," said Davis.

Staff cuts, said Davis, would include seven teachers at secondary grade levels, through layoffs and attrition; four non-instructional jobs, through attrition; plus a middle-school dean position through attrition, and a high school administrative job to be determined.

The district’s enrollment of about 1,529 students has declined by more than 300 from 10 years ago, and is projected to drop further in 2012-13, Davis said. She remarked the district "can’t keep the same level of staff" when it is "losing the children."

Davis, whose current salary is $176,512, is among about 11 administrative and central office positions who will be taking a pay freeze, along with about 115 support staffers represented by the Civil Service Employees Association. The freeze will generate a total savings of about $120,000 in 2012-13, said Assistant Superintendent for Business & Finance Louis D’Ambro, adding that new two-year CSEA and administrator contracts will expire in June 2014. About 125 teachers, meanwhile, will receive raises through a contract already n place, he said; raises to be paid in 2012-13 will total about $370,000, he added.

As for the program changes, Davis said the cut in 7th grade foreign language would not affect ongoing classes in 8th grade and at the high school. In addition, the fall cheerleading program will continue despite the winter cheerleading deletion. As for pre-K, she said the district will no longer directly fund it but will pursue additional programs through Head Start and United Cerebral Palsy while also continuing a grant-funded program.