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Ichabod Crane board set to approve budget with 3.3% tax levy increase

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KINDERHOOK—The Ichabod Crane school board plans to approve a $38,447,102 budget proposal for the 2009-2010 school year. The plan would increase spending by just under 4%. That would set the tax levy at $18,904,116, an increase of 3.25% over the current year.
     The final numbers were presented to the board at a special meeting Tuesday March 31 at the last of six budget meetings the district has hosted over the last three months. The board will vote on the proposed budget at its next regular meeting, this Tuesday, April 7.
     There will be a public hearing on the budget May 12. Voters will decide the fate of the proposal and elect members of the Board of Education May 19.
     District Business Administrator Greg Giammarco arrived at last week’s meeting with projected state aid numbers “hot off the presses,” he said. Mr. Giammarco told the board the list arrived at 4 p.m. that afternoon. Schools Superintendent James Dexter pointed out that “our projections were within $2,800 of what came in.” He concluded, “The levy figures we went out with are right on.”
     The district will receive about $167,000 in federal economic stimulus aid. Combined with money from the district’s balance helped the district keep the levy increase at 3.25%. But Mr. Dexter and Mr. Giammarco stressed that the district needs to look into long term savings over the coming years.
     The district will receive federal aid for the next two years, but Mr. Dexter recommended that the district will have to look consider reducing its spending on transportation, staffing and facilities.
     But Mr. Giammarco told the board that unless the district faces “the year of all years,” he does not anticipate spending the full $38 million called for in the budget.
     Board member Thomas Neufeld questioned whether using district funds to lower the levy would leave a structural deficit. “I’m not comfortable with the numbers I see in front of me, and I wouldn’t vote for a levy of 3.25%,” he said.
     Mr. Giammarco said that the district does not have a deficit, but he did concede that in three years the money from the current federal package will be gone. “A lot can happen in three years,” he said.
     Mr. Dexter said that the district will be looking at the data from an enrollment study and that lower enrollment numbers would be a factor in future budgets. He said when administrators know the results of the enrollment study they can look at the district’s plan for class sizes, the possibility for not using all five school buildings and cutting some afternoon bus runs.    
     Also at the meeting the board approved a motion to continue the football pilot program. The team is funded by an outside booster club and, as stated in the motion, “The Board cannot and does not make a commitment beyond this scope of this resolution.”
     Mike Smith, a Football Booster Club organizer, told the board, “The funds are in place” for the program to continue next year.
     The Tuesday, April 7, Board of Education meeting is at 7 p.m. in the Middle School Library. Information about the budget and meetings can be found on the schools website at http://ichabodcrane.org/.
 
 

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