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Tentative school district budget would have only minor tax increases

No cuts to programs or staff projected for this year

— After months of labor, discussions and variable financial projections, the Skaneateles CSD board of education is preparing to put forth its latest budget with a 2.5 percent tax levy increase and no cuts to educational programs or reduction of staff levels except through attrition.

This drastic reduction from the initially-possible 3.43 percent tax levy increase is partly the result of the board’s fiscal management skills and partly from higher-than-expected state aid included in the recently-approved state budget.

“We’ve dodged another bullet as far as not laying off staff and maintaining programs,” said Superintendent Phil D’Angelo. “We’re looking out for our students and managing this as fiscally responsibly as we can.”

School board President Evan Dreyfuss said the increased state aid made a huge difference in the district’s budget and, “we should use this to reduce everyone’s tax burden.”

When 2012-13 budget discussions first began in December last year, the Skaneateles school district – which has already cut $2.1 million out of its past two annual budgets -- was looking at a possible $717,000 shortfall in the $29.6 million budget and a 3.43 percent or higher tax levy increase to district residents.

As the months have passed, numerous variables turned out in the district’s favor that have reduced the projected increases, such as teacher and staff union willingness to accept moderate increases in their contracts, and the recent increase in state aid. But while other Central New York districts have still had to layoff dozens of teachers and cut numerous programs, Skaneateles has been able to reduce through staff attrition and the ability to draw revenue off its reserve accounts.

At the April 3 work session of the school board, Dale Bates, assistant superintendent for business and finance, laid out for the board the current budget possibilities taking into account the increased state aid included in the state legislature’s budget.

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