(April 19, 2012) On Tuesday, April 17, the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk School District Board of Education approved a $41,729,185 budget for the 2012-13 school year. The proposed budget reduces spending by $708,681, or 1.7 percent, from the current school year and would increase the tax levy by 6.8 percent.
When the budget development process began, the district faced a nearly $3 million budget gap, due to increasing contractual and operational expenses, and the loss of revenue from state and federal aid and the termination of a 20-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement with Selkirk Cogen natural gas plant. Rolling over all current expenses at 2012-13 levels would have required a tax levy increase of 10.1 percent. However, the district was able to reduce the proposed levy increase to 6.8 percent by making budget reductions, which total more than $1.6 million but preserve educational programming and staff.
"Our students remain our top priority, and excellence in education our primary responsibility,” says Superintendent of Schools Elisabeth Smith. “Despite more than $2 million in revenue losses, we have sought to develop a budget proposal that will help us sustain our mission to prepare our students to excel at RCS and beyond. We identified cost-saving measures, so that we could focus funding on educational and extra-curricular programming we currently provide.”
Budget reductions include insurance savings of more than $400,000, as well as the relocation of the district office to the middle school campus, the termination of a bus lease, and reductions in BOCES services and technology equipment. The creation of a six-student in-district special education class will generate $200,000 in savings by returning student to RCS from out-of-district placements, and the number of Career and Technical Education and New Visions placements available will be reduced. Staff reductions include one bus dispatcher, one bus aide, and one elementary teacher, a position which will be lost through attrition.
An agreement reached Tuesday with the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Teachers’ Association achieved $130,000 in
savings for the 2012-13 school year, enabling the Board to reduce the
tax levy increase by 0.5 percent from the 7.3 percent increase
Under the new state tax levy limit legislation, the formula used to determine each district’s tax levy limit allows for exemptions for certain expenses or losses in revenue. Due to the loss of $1.2 million in PILOT revenue, the maximum allowable tax levy increase for
Ravena-Coeyman’s-Selkirk Central School District is 8.6-percent. In an effort to reduce the burden on RCS taxpayers, the district sought to create a budget below the maximum allowable tax levy.
Voters will decide on the proposal at the polls on May 15. Because the tax levy increase is within the district’s maximum allowable limit of 8.6 percent, the support of a simple majority (50 percent + 1) is required for the budget to pass on May 15.