Lakeland School District Committed to Freezing the 2012 Budget

Lakeland Superintendent George Stone
Lakeland Superintendent George Stone

Dr. George Stone, superintendent of Lakeland School District, told the school board at a public budget meeting that the district intends on freezing the 2012 budget at the 2011 level of $157,235,514, but that does not mean that the tax levy won’t go up.

“Without any additional revenue we are already looking at a 4 percent tax levy increase,” said Stone. “To keep it within the 2 percent tax cap will require us to cut an additional $1.85 million out of the budget.”

Reduced revenue amounts will affect the tax levy.  The district had its state aid reduced by $2.6 million dollars last year and it is unknown how much aid it can expect for the 2012-13 school year. In addition the amount of federal aid will be reduced because the stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will no longer added to the allotment, according to Stone.

Stones listed the increased cost of the retirement system, health insurance, fuel, utilities and unfunded mandates as factors that will affect the expenditure budget for 2012-13.

“We are going to be as responsible as possible,” Stone said.

To reduce costs in the 2011-12 budget, the district closed its alternative high school, reduced its pre-K program and eliminated teaching, assistant, administrative and custodial positions.

“We are in a very similar budget scenario that we faced last year,” Stone warned.

One positive item that was noted during the meeting was that the district no longer had to allocate almost $300,000 to pay for the MTA payroll tax.

“That really helped,” said Superintendent for Business Ray Morningstar, who went through the support services, operations & maintenance and transportation lines of the 2012-13 preliminary budget.

At the end of the presentation, Morningstar said that the segment of the budget that was gone over was .72 percent, or $165,000, less than the current year.

The Lakeland School District serves 6,323 students who live within six different towns. The district serves the towns of Yorktown, Cortlandt and Somers in Westchester as well as Carmel, Philipstown and Putnam Valley in Putnam County.

The school board will be hosting budget meetings on the first Thursday of the month in February and March at 7 p.m. at the Administrative Office. The school board expects to adopt a budget on April 12. The public will vote whether to approve the 2012-13 on Tuesday, May 15.

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