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Seven show for second St. Lawrence Central budget hearing


BRASHER FALLS - Last year in order to save money on mailing and printing costs, St. Lawrence Central Superintendent Stephen M. Putman elected to include the school district’s budget notice in its annual budget newsletter, rather then mailing out a postcard in addition to the newsletter.

The only problem with that, Mr. Putman said, was state law requires schools to disclose that information following their budget hearing.

“I got some calls from the public, legitimately so, with people saying they had just got the newsletter, but the hearing had already happened,” he said.

In order to remedy that situation, Mr. Putman said the district held its official budget hearing last week and then mailed out the newsletters, which contained a notice detailing the budget presentation held Tuesday night.

That presentation, which was attended by only one school board member, Patricia Gengo, Mr. Putman, Business Manager Karen Locey and seven members of the public, who were all district employees. most of whom also attended last week’s hearing.

Comments were scarce with only one person speaking at the meeting. That woman, who teaches at the school but declined to give her name, questioned the need for a curriculum coordinator post being proposed by the district’s incoming superintendent. “Is the school board aware that the new common core standards pretty much tell us what to teach and when to teach it?” she asked.

Following the meeting, two other teachers, Christine A. Compo-Martin and Anne Avery-Truax, agreed and said they would like to see another teacher added rather than a curriculum director.

Ms. Avery-Truax suggested combining the curriculum director position with the CSE chair position.

“The impact would be greater if they hired another teacher then it would be with curriculum coordinator,” Ms. Compo-Martin said.

At last week’s hearing several people expressed concern over the estimated class sizes in first grade next year, where three teachers are expected to teach to an average class size of 24 students.

Mr. Putman said he hasn’t spoken with incoming superintendent Stephan A. Vigliotti Sr. since last week’s meeting.

During his presentation, Mr. Putman said the district’s $19,798,726 spending plan for 2013-14 was an increase of $946,730 or 5.02 percent pver the 2012=13 budget.

Despite the 5 percent increase in spending, a $787,000 increase in state aid and a $12,401 increase in reserves helps limit the tax levy increase to 3.9 percent, its maximum allowable levy increase under the tax cap.

“One of the things with high poverty districts is you’re highly dependent on the state,” he said, noting only approximately one-sixth of the district’s revenue comes from its tax levy.

Mr. Putman said he’s estimating that this year’s full value tax rate will be somewhere in the range of $22.60 to $22.80 per $1,000 of assessed property value, an increase of roughly 2.9 percent.

For the owner of a $50,000 that increase would translate to a tax increase of $11 for the year with a basic STAR exemption, $0 for those with enhanced star and $36 for taxpayers with no STAR property tax credit.

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