After months of board meetings and a community forum in February, the Springs School Board heard a presentation on the 2012-13 budget of $24.68 million Monday night, delivered by the district’s treasurer, Colleen Card.
Because of tax levy limitations, the new 2012-13 budget is actually $208,920, or .84 percent, less than the current year’s budget. In order to stay under the state-mandated 2 percent property tax levy cap, $791,969 worth of cuts were made to existing programs, including the elimination of 5.8 teaching positions and two teaching assistants.
The new budget translates to a property tax rate increase of 3.19 percent, and a tax levy increase of 2.97 percent, which is allowable under the new law.
Other changes at the Springs School next year include a 50-percent cut of all extracurricular activities — although as of yet the administration wasn’t sure if that meant half of the activities would be cut, or if all the activities would be cut in half — the end of interscholastic sports, a new middle school model where the sixth grade would now follow the same schedule as the seventh and eighth grades, and the return from a nine-period day to an eight-period day.
Janice Varizi, a Springs School parent, spoke up about the interscholastic sports cut.
“What are the kids going to do now?” she asked the board. “Go home and play video games?”
Her son has played football for the past four years, but now that option will not be available. “It’s a recipe for disaster,” she said. “These kids are going to be going in to the high school and competing for places on teams with other kids who have been playing all along. This wouldn’t be happening if it was your son,” she said, addressing the school board president, Kathee Burke Gonzalez.
“You don’t want to go there,” Ms. Gonzalez said. “That is unfair.”
“Maybe, but it’s true,” said Ms. Varizi.
“These were extremely difficult decisions,” Mr. Casale said. “It breaks my heart, but under this budget we’re stretched to the max, we’ve hit our ceiling. We had to find what would have the least impact on the least number of kids.”
John Grant, the school board’s vice president, agreed. “I don’t think anyone can expect us to trim our academic budget and not our sports,” he said.
Mary McPartland, another school parent, asked if it would be possible for a group of parents to instigate a booster club. “This is beyond crucial for our eighth graders,” she said. The board agreed that it was a good idea, although the eight-period day may preclude students from leaving classes early for games. The new budget shows a proposed tax rate of $889.70 per $1,000 of assessed value, up from $862.05 in the 2011-12 budget.
There will be a public hearing on the budget on May 7. The statewide budget vote is on May 15.