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ESM presents proposed budget

The extraordinary financial challenges facing school districts across the state must be met with thoughtful, yet substantial actions to preserve high-quality programs and services without burdening taxpayers.

Unfortunately, this poses a troubling dilemma. Strong districts like ours continue to deliver on the promise of student achievement through exceptional results; witness our recent listing on the College Board's AP (Advanced Placement) Achievement List, and the fact that ESM students continue to receive significant recognition through achievement in academic competitions, the fine and performing arts, athletics, and numerous other facets of school life.

These results are due in large part to the unrelenting focus of our Strategic Plan, as well as to the significant ongoing support of our ESM community. Our district remains committed to our priority of student learning and instructional programs while demonstrating our financial stewardship and responsibility to our taxpayers. Unfortunately, as revenue streams continue to deteriorate and anticipated expenditures increase, the magnitude of the budget gap necessitates district action that impacts our programs, services, operations and staffing. The challenge is to make sure these reductions do not compromise what our students need and what our community expects.

On March 21, I presented a proposed budget for the 2011-12 school year that calls for a reduction in total spending over the current year's budget, driven by significant cuts in revenues from the local, state, and federal governments. Our budget gap of $8.7 million was largely based on an expected 18 percent loss in state aid, reduction of local sales tax revenues, and a sunset of federal funding that was initiated two years ago, in addition to mandated employee benefit increases. Last year, our total budget was approximately $72 million. On March 21, I proposed a budget of approximately $71.5 million. The tax levy will increase under this proposed budget by 1.93 percent, or about $32 annually for a home valued at $100,000.

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