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Brady updates Potsdam school budget proposal

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POTSDAM — School Superintendent Patrick H. Brady outlined last week a budget proposal with a 3.99 percent tax levy increase that would fully close the district’s $1.2 million budget gap.

Nearly $1 million in cuts proposed by Mr. Brady have not yet been approved by the Potsdam Central School District Board of Education. The superintendent’s plan to close the deficit next year also includes the use of cash reserves and an expected increase in state aid.

Mr. Brady’s proposed cuts, which total $995,562, include a social studies teacher at $54,611, science teacher at $89,041, math teacher (through attrition) at $80,211, English teacher at $79,005, part-time French teacher at $39,702, a music teacher (through attrition) at $93,170, an elementary teacher (through attrition) at $88,670, high school teaching assistant (through attrition) at $21,250, special-education teacher (through attrition) at $62,906 and a physical education teacher (through attrition) at $46,959.

Other cuts include $299,723 in Board of Cooperative Educational Services costs through taking back services it is paying BOCES for, $11,990 in food services, $3,407 for the Lawrence Avenue math lab and $24,817 for the summer school at Lawrence Avenue Elementary.

Also, some expenses won’t be as high as anticipated. Fuel bids came in $11,000 less than expected, and the increase in contributions to the New Year State Teachers Retirement System will be 16.25 percent instead of 16.5 percent of payroll. While that may not seem like a lot, Mr. Brady said, the difference equates to $18,250 in savings.

After that, Mr. Brady said, he’s not sure what do.

“We still have a little time left to decide,” he said. “We know we will be seeing increased money from the state,” which could help close the budget gap.

Mr. Brady said he probably will recommend using what is left in the district’s fund balance and reserves.

Currently the district is planning to use $1.45 million in fund balance and reserves toward the 2013-14 budget, which totals $27.9 million before the proposed cuts.

The proposal would carry a 3.99 percent tax levy increase. The state tax cap would allow a hike of up to 4.72 percent.

At a recent community forum, Mr. Brady offered a breakdown of major expenditures: $6,904,097 for teaching and supervision, $5,293,992 for health insurance, $3,877,759 for special education, $3,128,172 in bond payments, $2,724,592 in retirement contributions, $1,885,922 for utilities, operations and maintenance, and $1,068,176 for transportation.

Also, $495,635 for computers, Internet, software and support, $208,429 for the business office, $195,083 for the district office and $24,100 for the Board of Education and district clerk.

“It’s not everything, but those are some of the main drivers,” he said, noting that health care costs alone make up 19.7 percent of the district’s budget.

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