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ICC board adopts $38M spending plan, new bus proposal

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KINDERHOOK–The Ichabod Crane School board adopted a $37.7-million budget proposal at Tuesday night’s regular board meeting. This proposed budget includes programs originally cut and will set the increase in the tax levy at 2.74%. The annual vote will be May 18 in the high school gym from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

In addition to the budget voters will be asked at the May election whether the district should spend $428,000 for new buses. At the school board meeting Tuesday, April 13, board members adopted the proposal to buy four new buses. School district Business Administrator Gregory Giammarco told the board that state aid would cover about 65% of the cost of the buses. The remaining 35%–roughly $150,000 in principal–would be picked up by taxpayers over a five-year period, he said.

Also on the May 18 ballot are three open seats on the board. The terms of members Regina Rose, Anthony Welcome and John Antelak are up. Candidate petitions are available at the district office and must be submitted by Monday, April 19. Information about eligible candidates will be posted April 26 on the district website, www.ichobadcrane.org.

At the start of Tuesday’s meeting the board heard from 4th graders planning to exhibit their art projects at Martin Van Buren Elementary School April 15, from 4 to 6 p.m. Board members also heard a request from the girls’ softball team to travel to Disney World to play exhibition games next spring. The group plans to raise at least $1,200 per person for the trip, which would include 15 students, as well as coaches and chaperons. The boys’ basketball team took a similar trip last winter.

When budget discussions started, Ms. Rose mentioned the fundraising proposal. Stressing how tough economic times are, she said, “If they can raise enough money to go to Disney, then they can [raise money] to keep the tax levy low.”

She and other board members mentioned tougher times in the future. The new budget proposal does restore some of the modified sports program at the middle school and a part-time music teaching position, which will continue parts of that program that were previously slated to be cut.

But board member Bruce Naramore said saving these programs by raising the budget slightly in the coming school year is just delaying the inevitable. “This is not something that is just suddenly going to get better,” he said of budget constraints the district faces.

The district is looking at a $1.1-million reduction in state aid this year, and over the coming years federal economic stimulus money will also end, leaving the district with a $2-million budget gap. Board members are bracing themselves for more cuts, and though many said a partial restoration of the programs was acceptable, they worried what would be cut in the coming years.

Edward Harsen was the only board member who voted against the proposed budget.

Seventeen teachers and teaching assistants were granted tenure at Tuesday night’s meeting. Ms. Rose called the appointments bittersweet, since some of the people mentioned will see their positions cut in the new school year. The teachers who received tenure will have tenure if they are reinstated in the district or they would have a shorter probationary period if they accept a position at another school district in the state.

The board also discussed its search for a new district superintendent. The current superintendent, James Dexter, leaves June 30. The board hopes to appoint an interim superintendent by May.

The next school board meeting will be Tuesday, April 27 at 7 p.m. in the middle school library. The board plans to discuss the Questar III/BOCES budget. The next regular meeting will be May 4.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email eteasdale@columbiapaper.com.

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