Clarkstown Board of Education members reduced the proposed increase for the 2013-2014 school year budget from 4.3 percent to 2.9 percent. The board spent more than two hours Thursday evening discussing and reviewing the proposed spending plan before coming to an agreement to reduce spending for safety and security, buses and technology labs by $1.4 million.
Board President Joe Malgieri was pleased with the result and pointed out that there were no staff or program cuts.
“I think this is a good spot to be in,” said Malgieri. “I think the board acted responsibly, looking at all the possibilities. Initially when it came out at 4.3 percent, we were not comfortable with it.”
Malgieri said board member conferred about the budget through the week and met with district officials.
Board Member Mike Aglialoro said they felt the initial recommended increase was too much for residents who are also dealing with a town tax increase and the one percent surcharge the town added to the school property tax bills.
The board voted to cut $512,000 for five new school buses, $150,000 for technology labs, $150,000 for security guards and $600,000 for safety and security equipment and improvements from the
Board members agreed to go ahead with $600,000 of security upgrades that would focus on the installation of buzzers and panic buttons at all the schools. A specific list of improvements costing $600,000 will be presented at the next board meeting.
The original recommendation for $1.2 million in safety and security measures came after district administrators received input from community members, the PTA, staff, principals and the Clarkstown Police Department. An additional $450,000 had been allocated in the draft budget for security officers; however, increased user fees would have offset $300,000.
Assistant Superintendent John LaNave said the board would meet its goal of a 2.9 percent increase if it did not fill the contingency teaching positions included in the budget to which board members agreed.
Earlier in the meeting, the trustees asked about the $750,000 included for the district’s “Technology Refresh” program. For the past years, Clarkstown has been replacing 25 percent of its technology equipment. It started out spending $250,000 and then $500,000. For the coming school year, $750,000 was budgeted but board members disagreed with the items the money was being allocated for. Director of Instructional Technology John Krouskoff said he would go back to the principals who originally put the list together and they would revise it.
The School Budget Committee, which held its session prior to the board workshop, will review the revised plan on Tuesday, April 2 and the board’s next meeting Thursday April 4.