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School Board Approves K-L Budget

The spending plan, almost $113 million, was approved 6-1 with board member Peter Treyz casting the dissenting vote.

The budget approved by the Katonah Lewisboro school board Thursday night was largely unchanged from the spending plan proposed by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Kreutzer back on March 1.

In his final presentation of the numbers Kreutzer said the budget accomplished the board goal of maintaining programming and staying within the state's mandated property tax cap limit.

School officials plan to spend $112,996,167, slightly less than the initial budget of $113,062,834 because of $66,667 in savings the district realized through debt refinancing and the elimination of a tax anticipation note. The final budget is a 1.78 increase over last year's budget and raises the tax levy by 2.09 percent.

The school board approved the budget in a 6-1 vote, with board member Peter Treyz voting against the proposal.

In addition, the board approved a ballot proposition that would authorize the school district to spend $5.9 million from its general fund balance toward building improvements and repairs. The measure passed 7-0.

Board President Mark Lipton thanked the school administrators for their hard work in crafting the budget. He also thanked his colleagues on the board and the community for participating in the process.

"Through your pariticpation, we can create a budget that reflects values of this community," he said. "It's the job of this board to balance the needs of the entire district—whether it's class size at the elementary level or class offerings at the high school. I believe this budget gives students the opportunity to learn something new and meaningful every day."

The tax rates are estimated to increase in Bedford by 6.64 percent; Lewisboro by 1.8 percent and in North Salem and Pound Ridge, the tax rate is estimated to decreast by 1.2 percent and 1.95 percent, respectively.

Despite the last minute pleas from parents of Meadow Pond parents to keep class sizes smaller than they are projected in this budget, the board defended the plan—which calls for cutting 24 staff positions—as one that is fair and equitable as possible given the financial constraints the district is under.

See the video clips for highlights of that discussion.

In addition, Gabrielle Miller, a high school junior, presented a petition to the school board regarding the layoff of Caryn Gilbert, an attendance clerk employed at the high school. Her speech is posted here.

The budget and building renovations proposition will be up for a community vote on May 15.

For additional details on the board discussion of the budget,

Laura Beth Kerr Gilman March 23, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Thank you for posting the videos from the meeting last eve and thank you to the BOE and superintendent for their time and energy. I have to say that I am feeling disappointed in our district’s process of preparing and voting on the budget. By the time we know what cuts the board wants to make, and we start letting them know which cuts we disagree with, it is too late. The decisions have been made, and (of course) the board will pass a budget it came up with. As voters we elect the board and vote to pass or fail the budget they come up with. The problem I am having is with line items. Is it possible to have line item pass/fails? We have separate votes on items such as extra buses. Why not ask the voters to approve or disapprove of an issue brought to their attention by a petition or letter writing campaign (i.e. keeping 3 sections at Meadow Pond elementary school)? The parent spoke eloquently in the video posted in the article. His voice may have been heard, but it made no difference. (CONT.)
Laura Beth Kerr Gilman March 23, 2012 at 04:38 PM
(CONT.) Community members will have the opportunity to vote on the whole budget. If people vote NO in protest due to a line item they disagree with, it is not like the board will add back in a cut previously made. It will make MORE cuts, thinking that is what the community wants. Some years this IS the case, but not always. Some people vote "no" in protest of the wrong cuts, in their opinion. I wonder if there are other processes being utilized in other parts of our country to address this issue. It is not that I want to open up a can of worms, however I wonder if our beloved American principal of democracy is being practiced as well as it can be, in this instance.
Lisa Buchman March 23, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Thanks for your comments Laura - what do others think? From the time the budget was presented (Mar. 1) to its adoption, was there ample time for public comment and feedback to the board?
Lisa Buchman March 23, 2012 at 07:58 PM
If you'd like to read more about the budget adoption and discussion, here's our latest post: http://bedford.patch.com/articles/board-disappoints-class-size-advocates-stresses-need-for-bus-and-building-improvements
KL res March 23, 2012 at 08:17 PM
If the community were allowed a line item vote, triple-tier busing would have been voted down two years ago. The savings realized from that change affected every student, every school, parents/staff as well as scheduling in the entire district. It's a tough call to decide where to make cuts; cuts must be weighed with all their negative impacts. The obvious solution to this mess is to reduce salaries/benefits and unfunded mandates. Since NY school districts are still working on figuring out how to do that, maybe it's time to cut areas that don't affect education and the entire student body. I know that schools take pride in their after school athletics/arts, but has the distict considered pay to play for sports/arts? That's an area that doesn't impact classroom education and all district students. We already did something similar with cutting elementary language; now it's only for those willing/able to pay for their kids.

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