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North Salem's Proposed School Budget is Below Levy Cap

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – North Salem School Superintendent Kenneth Freeston announced at Wednesday evening’s board of education meeting that the recommended 2012-13 school budget will preserve existing staff, services and programs and still fall below the cap on the real estate tax levy.

Next year’s budget carries an increase of 1.77 percent over the 2011-12 budget. Freeston attributed the small increase to the cooperation and collaboration of the North Salem Teachers Association. The association’s new contract, adopted in November 2011, provides for a freeze in salary schedule steps and larger contributions for health care premiums.

“We are grateful to our teachers for their understanding of these difficult times and for their acceptance of a new contract,” said Freeston. “Without this new agreement, we would be facing loss of programs and staff.”

The North Salem School District has reduced existing staff in recent years, leading to a cumulative savings of $2.5 million, said Freeston. The upcoming budget will also benefit by the elimination of the MTA payroll tax, a reduction of unemployment costs due to an absence of lay-offs and cost savings in certain special education services.

Every district in the state submits its own worksheet to determine the actual property tax levy increase for the following year. The percentage varies from district to district, depending on certain formulas provided by the state. North Salem’s maximum allowable tax levy increase for next year is actually 3.56 percent. The new school budget therefore falls below the cap.

“This is welcome news,” said North Salem Board of Education President Katherine Daniels. “Thank you to the North Salem teachers for their role in making this budget possible. We’re going to meet every Wednesday this month and each week we’ll focus on designated sections of the budget." All meetings are open to the public.

The March 14 meeting will concentrate on instructional supervision, instructional teaching and special education/pupil personnel services. The March 21 meeting will address instructional media and technology and co-curricular activities and athletics. The March 28 meeting will finalize the budget scorecard and the board expects to adopt the new budget on April 11.

A public hearing will be held on May 2.

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