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Hastings Board of Ed Unveils Preliminary Budget

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – The Hastings Board of Education unveiled its preliminary budget for the 2012-2013 school year on Monday night, which features a 1.62 percent increase over the current school year's spending plan.  Hastings interim Superintendent Timothy Connors said the district is aiming to keep spending in-line as a top goal for next year, regardless of department.

“We’ve asked people across the board to hold a line,” he said.  “You’re going to see more zeroes and decreases than you are increases.”

The preliminary budget was set at $42,708,466, which would be a $680,072 increase over this year’s budget of $42,028,394.

Connors said he will make a presentation of a proposed budget March 19 and the board will adopt the budget April 17 for election.  The public will be able to vote on the budget on May 15.  Connors said the main goal of the budget each year is to “maintain the quality of education that the community expects.”  He also wanted to sway any concerns with the new tax cap factoring into the budget.

“We’re going to present a budget that does not exceed the tax levy cap,” he said.  “We think that the budget that we have will be under that.”

Connors highlighted various ways the district has been able to save money, citing areas such as legal expenses.

“Our legal expenses are down because up until recently we had two firms representing us,” he said.

The district will also see $101,748 in energy savings due to the completion of a $1.9 million energy performance contract.  These savings will be the result of new energy efficient lights, new solar panels and new exterior doors throughout the district.

There have been some cuts made throughout the preliminary budget including maintenance and operations, general support, special education, technology and co-curricular activities.

Connors said he does anticipate a $147,759 increase in state aid, though, to help counteract the slide of such support.

“At one point we had up to 20 percent of our budget, now we’re down to about 9 percent of our budget” covered by state aid, he said.

Non-teacher and teacher retirement benefits did see an increase in the preliminary budget, with non-teacher benefits increasing by roughly 29 percent to $815,000 and teacher benefits increasing by nearly 14 percent to $2,250,000.

The board said the preliminary budget information would be available on the school district website for public review by Tuesday.

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