For Three Village administrators and school board trustees, it's a chance worth taking: the district will officially float a budget that would pierce the state's tax cap threshold and need a super majority to pass.
The board of education on Tuesday voted unanimously to adopt a budget of $178,608,110, a number which would carry a 4.48 percent tax levy increase – which means it will need at least 60 percent voter approval come May 15.
Following the board's vote to adopt that budget, interim superintendent Neil Lederer said he wouldn't have felt comfortable not taking the chance of going above the tax cap.
"I’m not certain what our chances are. I think it’s going to be a real challenge," he said. "I think the budget is an excellent budget. It's well-grounded and provides for our students without cutting major programs."
The adoption comes after several weeks of dialogue in which the district distinctly began leaning in the direction of a 4.5 percent tax levy increase. The conversation included students and parents, who lobbied to save programs such as the , the program, Focus program, and more.
The $178,608,110 budget represents a 2.3 percent year-over-year increase in spending from the 2011-2012 school budget. It will carry a tax levy of $133,645,093, amounting to a tax levy increase of 4.48 percent. Administrators pointed to an overall reduction in state aid as the driving factor behind the tax levy increase, even after state lawmakers were able to for Three Village.
According to the state formula used to determine each district's exact cap, Three Village could have gone up to a 2.99 percent tax levy increase before needing a super majority of voter approval.
RELATED: View the district's official budget documents here.
The board of education in an extra work session on April 3, slashing some areas to make room for those programs and services to be preserved.
Administrators made $6.5 million in budget cuts en route to the number eventually adopted by the board. The adopted budget will eliminate 85.3 full-time positions, including 38.5 teachers, some of whom would have been laid off anyway due to declining enrollment. It will also eliminate 10.5 teaching assistants, 20 monitors, and three administrators, for a savings of $4,482,500 in staffing reductions. Other cuts included $130,000 from the athletics budget; close to $900,000 in supplies, equipment, and contracted services; and a savings of $840,000 achieved through retirement incentives.
"By voting for this budget, the board members believe this is the sound thing to do for the students in the school district," board president John Diviney said. "I think it’s worked out as best as we can possibly expect. Hopefully we will be successful next month."