BEDFORD, N.Y. -- Regrouping more than a week after Bedford Central voters defeated the proposed 2016-17 budget , school board members opted to go with a revised version that includes more cuts and will stay under the state-mandated tax levy cap.
The revised budget , which includes around $2.8 million in additional cost reductions, would result in the elimination of nearly 55 jobs. The number of cuts do not add up to whole numbers because part-time jobs are counted in fractions of a full-time equivalent position.
“It's not an easy thing to look at,” said Interim Superintendent John Chambers.
Jobs slated to be axed include all but one of the librarians for the district's five elementary schools. Under the austerity scenario, a single "master librarian" would travel across the district and check on each elementary school's collection. Building-level staff would assist students in the libraries when the master librarian is absent.
Other cuts include a reduction in science staff at Fox Lane High School, which would result in eliminating the longstanding freshmen course choices between Earth Science and the Living Environment (Biology). Under the revised budget, ninth graders would only be able to enroll in the later, although they could still enroll in Earth Science classes in future years.
Three and a half custodial positions would be elimination, which will result in a drop in cleaning frequency of spaces. As a result, people using the spaces will be encouraged to clean up the rooms themselves.
Roughly 33 job cuts were included in the defeated budget, which had more than $4 million of cost reductions.
The job cuts were decided based on triaging decisions from building principals. Non-personnel cuts will include a few one-time measures to not spend on items that will likely need to be taken care of in future years.
The original budget, which sought a 3.82-percent tax-levy hike , failed because it did not receive a 60-percent supermajority needed to override the tax-levy cap.
Although the budget was only narrowly defeated - it received a simple majority of about 58.8 percent - board members chose not to attempt a second override because another defeat would require the district to adopt an contingency budget, which would entail about $4.3 million in cuts that would come in addition to the rejected version.
Board member Suzanne Grant, who was one of three incumbents unseated in last week's board elections that coincided with the budget vote, summed up her aversion to a second override attempt.
“I have no appetite for that."
The board's risk aversion is supported by state precedent. Most second cap-override attempts have failed, according to Mark Betz, the district's assistant superintendent for business.
The cap, which varies from year to year due to a mix of the inflation rate of local exemptions, has been state law since 2011. The tax levy is the total amount of property tax revenue to be collected for the budget.
A second public vote, under state law, must take place on Tuesday, June 21, which is also the date of Fox Lane High School's graduation. The school board has until June 1 to adopt a revised budget and submit it to the voters.
While the budget will be subject to further review and may slightly change, if it is adopted without further revisions, the tax levy would increase by 1.27 percent, which is slightly under the 1.32-percent cap. Total spending would drop by 0.35 percent from the current school year.
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