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Local News

May 17, 2014

Voters to decide on school budgets

Voters across the state will go to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of school budgets, and in many cases propositions and school-board elections.

For the second year in a row, all local school budgets stayed below the state’s property tax cap. That means that all voting will be decided by a simple majority; a 60 percent vote is required for budgets that exceed the cap.

The cap can vary at each school because it’s determined by a number of factors including, pension, debt service, and construction costs for the district

Times and locations for voting are set by each district. At Walton Central School, the polls are open at the school’s bus garage from noon to 9 p.m., Superintendent Roger Clough said.

Walton’s $20.2 million budget calls for a 5.49 percent property tax levy increase, as compared to 2013-14. The budget represents an effort by the Board of Education that was shaped by community input, he said.

At community forums that were part of the budget process, the top request was preserving educational programs, Clough said. The district faced a $2.4 million budget gap following several years of state funding shortfalls.

“We made some deep cuts that will have the least impact on students,” he said. They included cuts to staff and such activities as the school newspaper and fall drama production. It was an effort to meet the needs of students while considering the impact on taxpayers, he said.

Clough said he was hopeful voters would come out to the vote. If the budget is defeated, it can be resubmitted, revised or the school can use a contingency budget. In the latter case, the district could be forced to cut an additional $400,000 to $600,000, and the only way that could happen is by cutting programs, Clough said.

At Oneonta City School District, voters will decide on a $35.3 million budget that calls for a 1.68 percent tax levy increase, Superintendent Joseph Yelich said. Voting will take place from noon to 9 p.m at the Foothills Performing Arts & Civic Center.

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