JE school board approves budget with fewer job cuts, lighter tax blow

The Jordan-Elbridge school board Tuesday night approved a $27.027 million spending plan that restores four and a half positions out of the nearly 30 that were cut in the budget voted down 1,282 to 323 May 17.

The original budget assumed a tax levy increase of 7.3 percent- this was dropped to an increase of 3.9 percent. The budget, up 2.54 percent from last year, was redrafted by interim business official Joseph Coleman and Thomas Strain, from the Association of Student Business Officials.

"We believe this team got as close to where they needed to be to be responsible number one: to the students and their educational program; and number two: to what we believe the taxpayers of Jordan-Elbridge can afford at this point in time," said William Speck, interim superintendent, to about 50 residents gathered in the high school auditorium.

The restored positions include one guidance councilor, one first grade teacher, one clerical position, one teacher aide and one half-time athletic director.

The board voted 7-1 to approve the budget, with Connie Drake voting no. Board member Jeanne Pieklik was absent.

"I'm not comfortable enough with how it's gonna impact 2012-13's budget," Drake said. "The capital debt service piece of the puzzle is what my concern is."

During Coleman and Strain's presentation, Drake brought attention to a $700,000 bond anticipation note payment that was in the original budget, but held from the 2011-12 budget.

"My concern is that we're using the money that we're getting from the state to reduce our operating expenses and not necessarily reducing our capital project expenses," Drake said.

Strain said the district is not legally obligated to make the BAN payment until July 2012.

"The alternative is to put the money back in there," Strain said. "The only thing that that would possibly do would be significantly increase the taxes this year."

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