Katonah-Lewisboro School District Superintendent Dr. Paul Kreutzer is proposing a budget that carries at least 12 staff reductions and a tax levy increase of 1.5 percent for the 2013-2014 academic year.
At $114,879,543, the spending plan represents a hike of 1.67 percent—which is in accordance with the 2-percent property tax cap—from last year's total of $112,996,167.
"With only minor exceptions, our educational programs are intact and in some cases enhanced," Kreutzer said in a letter to the board of education appearing in a budget packet on the district's website.
The body is slated to gather Thursday evening, and next year's financials are on the agenda. Another meeting on the same subject is set for 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
Major driving forces, identified by Kreutzer, behind the proposal include a lack of revenues—officials say expenses outpace them by nearly two to one—as well as rising pension costs and healthcare expenses.
The fact that the district was facing a $2.6 million shortfall at the beginning of the budgetary preparation season didn't help either, the superintendent notes. He also cited piling debt associated with required contributions to post-employment benefits—pension contributions rose by a "staggering" 23 percent this year—and "simply unsustainable" labor contract obligations.
Other items affecting the proposal include unfunded state mandates, curricular enhancements, technology improvements, sustainability programs, energy conservation, facility renovations, safety measures and staffing changes, Kreutzer said.
Staffing, class size
Staff reductions will affect 9.1 full-time equivalents (FTE) in teaching—which are spread across all the schools and will affect a host of subjects—and 2.5 in support staff.
At the elementary level, there's an addition of 0.5 FTE kindergarten teacher and assistant that is enrollment driven. And the state-mandated Response-to-Intervention program is pushing the addition of two related teaching positions at the middle school.
Projected elementary class sizes range from as few as 16-17 students to a maximum of 21-22 students.
The other middle school reductions are primarily related to enrollment and the proposed elimination of the middle school teaming model. The proposal cites high school staff reductions as enrollment and class-size driven.
The budget also calls for eliminating one special education teacher, three special education assistants and one district-wide psycholgist.
The total savings achieved by the staff reductions amounts to about $825,000.
Preliminary tax rates using 2013 equalization rates for individual towns are as follows: Bedford would see an increase of 6.85 percent, North Salem 6.26 and Pound Ridge 5.33, while Lewisboro would see a decrease of 0.37 percent.