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Byram Hills Board of Ed Presents 2012-2013 Budget

NORTH CASTLE, N.Y. – The Byram Hills School Board of Education presented its proposed budget for the 2012-2013 school year at Tuesday night’s meeting. The budget shows a 2.2 percent increase to $80,423,562, with a tax levy increase of 1.7 percent that stays below the state mandated 2 percent tax levy cap.

“We were challenged in ways we haven’t in the past, with the tax levy cap and annual performance reviews, but we came together as a community on behalf of our kids,” said Superintendent Jackie Taylor.

Taylor said the district used a K-12 approach to the budget, which maintains as high a standard of education for kindergarteners as it does for high school students and no programs have been cut in the new budget.

A small decline in enrollment in the elementary schools enabled staff reductions that the school district said is predicted to save almost $500,000 with additional savings of $317,000 from the retirement of seven teachers.

Staff increases at the high school, including a special education teacher and a psychologist is expected to cost the school system more than $400,000. The proposed budget shows health insurance increases that total $725,000 and New York State employee retirement increases at $459,000.

Money that funds the debt ceiling will run out in a few years, prompting Taylor to say, “It will be potentially difficult to maintain programs going forward.”

She also criticized the loss of local control of school systems to state and federal mandates, including the annual teacher and principal performance review program, which will cost the school system more than $100,000.

But she lauded the continued high quality of school programs and student achievement, which brought tears to her eyes as she discussed the impact of budget constraints on the school system.

Tuesday night’s meeting was the second in the budget enactment process. A series of budget hearings follows on the next three Tuesdays, the budget will be adopted on April 3 with a public budget vote on May 15.

Board of Education Chairperson Ira Schulman said the board is not permitted to encourage residents to vote for the budget. He said it must present budget information like it did Tuesday night and let the people decide whether to adopt it.

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