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May 9, 2013

Budget, board seats on Oneonta school ballot

By Mark Boshnack Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — The upcoming vote on the Oneonta City School District budget was the subject of a public hearing at Valleyview Elementary School. It was followed by a regular meeting.

Voters across the the state will go to the polls May 21 to decide the fate of public school budgets. In Oneonta, voting is from noon to 9 p.m. at the Foothills Performing Arts Center. The proposed $33.7 million budget would require a 2.7 percent tax levy increase. The maximum allowable levy increase is 4.48 percent.

Beside the budget, voters will be asked to approve the purchase of two 66-passenger buses, at a cost not to exceed $209,622.

They will also be asked to vote for three members of the board of education. Grace Larkin and Bill Grau are running for re-election to a three-year term, and Melissa Jervis is also on the ballot.

In her discussion of the budget, Lisa Weeks said that while state funding has increased about $364,000 compared to last year, total state aid is still below 2007-08 funding. To close a budget gap that totaled at one point $1.5 million, 15.3 full-time equivalent positions were reduced to help close the gap, some through attrition.

Other measures included relocating the sixth grade at the middle school for 2013-14. While safety patrol will be eliminated for those students, the traditional trip to Washington, D.C., is still possible. An extended day program will be offered for sixth graders, the details of which are still being worked out.

Following the regular meeting, board President Grace Larkin said that enough candidates applied during the recently completed superintendent search that it can move to its next phase. She said she hoped interviews with finalists can be arranged by early next month.