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Lakeland Retirements to Save District $1.2 Million

SHRUB OAK, N.Y. — The Lakeland Central School District Board of Education and administration solidified their previous announcement that they would be below the 2 percent tax cap, would not increase the dollar-to-dollar increase in the budget from last year and had found additional savings due to retirements as they presented the last section of their 2012-13 budget Thursday.

In January, Lakeland Superintendent George Stone announced the district’s budget would be the same dollar-to-dollar amount as last year , but in order to stay within the constraints of the 2 percent tax cap, the district needed to find $1.85 million in the budget.

He later announced that the school district would be receiving aid from the state 2.5 percent higher than the year before , equating to an extra $800,000 more than anticipated — but the district still needed to find $1 million to be below the cap.

Stone announced Thursday that they had “found” the additional funds — in the form of $1.2 million they will save next year as 13 professional staff and eight support staff had taken Lakeland’s incentive to retire. Stone also announced that with the current proposed budget there would be no layoffs of staff either. Despite Lakeland’s findings this year, Stone noted that each year the cap is in place, it will be harder and harder for districts to make a functioning budget.

“We’re extremely pleased,” Stone said. “This year it was not easy, it’s not going to be easy as we go into the future, as we talked about at our legislative forum we had earlier this week, that if something doesn’t happen given the tax cap and if we don’t get increase in state aid to close the cap then every year we’re going to be looking at these kinds of reductions from our budget and there’s only so many places where you can continue to find ways to meet those challenges.”

The budget gives a 1.5 percent increase to the superintendent and assistant superintendent. School board trustee Glen Malia was prompt to remind the public and administration that in the current school year, those positions received no increase in salary.

Overall, the instructional and BOCES services portion of the budget is a 1.2 percent increase from the 2011-12 budget, or $877,692 dollars more. Stone as well as Ray Morningstar, assistant superintendent for business, noted that these numbers may fluctuate or be moved around before April as the district learns of the “actual” money spent in the current school year.

During Thursday’s meeting, Morningstar explained that many decreases in the budget from the previous year were not because staff had left or positions were cut, but were because the district was recalculating how much to budget for the next year based on the actual money spent in that line item for this current year and years before.

On April 12 the school board will finalize and adopt the 2012-13 budget. A budget public hearing will be held May 1, and the budget vote is May 15.

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