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Croton School Officials Look For Ways To Cut $809,000

Croton-Harmon Schools Superintendent Edward Fuhrman said more details about where Croton would find $809,000 in budget reductions would come at the Feb. 12 meeting.
Croton-Harmon Schools Superintendent Edward Fuhrman said more details about where Croton would find $809,000 in budget reductions would come at the Feb. 12 meeting. Photo Credit: Jessica Glenza

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. - Croton-Harmon school officials have proposed several "areas identified for examination," intended to reduce the $45 million budget for 2013-14 by more than $809,000 in order to fall under the state-mandated property tax cap.

School officials were sparse with details at a Monday evening budget work session, saying a fuller picture of proposed reductions would be presented at a Feb. 12 meeting.

"We're talking large strokes," said Schools Superintendent Edward Fuhrman. "On ... Feb. 12, we will be getting more specific," he said.

Declining enrollment at Carrie E. Tompkins Elementary School, and a teacher resignation at the school, will likely allow the board to reduce the budget 2013-14 budget by $120,000 without layoffs or affecting class size, said school officials. About $50,000 in professional development for teachers could also be an area where "possible reductions" could take place.

The remaining $639,000 in shortfall could come from several sources. Those identified were a retirement incentive offered to the Croton Teachers Association. The incentive provides a 16 percent employee health- care contribution to CTA retirees. Retirees normally contribute 50 percent to their health-care costs.

School officials won't know whether the retirement incentive is a viable option until Feb. 1, the final day for CTA employees to submit irrevocable letters of resignation. At least five must take advantage of the program. Officials said this could save money by encouraging long-time, higher paid employees to retire, allowing the district to hire new teachers at a lower rate.

About $200,000 in special-education costs could be saved because of students who have graduated. Modified athletics, after-school athletics for seventh- and eighth-grade students, was given as a cost figure, of $150,000 under the possible-reductions heading. Nevertheless, Fuhrman emphasized that nothing was definite.

Changes to "program delivery" in physical education, art, music and library media were also identified, although not given a numerical value.

Without a figure for the retirement incentive, all dollar amounts identified in possible reductions leave a $289,000 shortfall to come under a 3.09 percent tax cap.

Although the tax cap is generally referred to as a "2 percent" tax cap, a complex formula handed down by New York state provides each district with a unique cap which affects the tax levy. Croton's tax-levy cap for the 2013-14 fiscal year is 3.09 percent. Fuhrman said he would not recommend an override for the 2013-14 school year.

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