Proposed 2013-14 Marcus Whitman budget goes to voters

Erinn Cain

The Marcus Whitman Central School District Board of Education has adopted a proposed 2013-14 budget that includes a 2.13 percent increase in the spending plan and no new major expenditures, said Superintendent of Schools Michael Chirco.

The proposed budget now goes to voters May 21 for approval.

"Although some cuts were necessary, we have been able to maintain most activities and programs for our students," said Chirco. "However, if the state persists in taking away aid that the district should be receiving, the same list of non-mandated things will be considered and argued over again next year."

The board has proposed a 2013-14 spending plan of $28,620,360, an increase of 2.13 percent from the 2012-13 plan. The proposed 2013-14 tax levy — $12,821,148 — is an increase of 2.44 percent from the levy in the current budget.

Chirco said the proposed budget is "nearly identical to the budget we had in 2011-12."

"However, this is not a truly balanced budget, because we must draw money from our reserves to make up for the shortfall in state aid," he said. "The board has chosen to draw $700,000 from these accounts in order to maintain programs for our students."

State aid to the district for 2013-14 is $13,762,212, up 1.5 percent from 2012-13.

Included in the proposed budget are position reductions for 1.5 full-time-equivalent teaching positions and five teacher aides, said Chirco.

"The school budget being proposed for next year is virtually the same size as it was two years ago," he said. "This has required that cuts be made. Since 2008, we have reduced staff each year."

In addition to the budget, district residents will also vote on three open seats on the Board of Education. Pamela Ormsby and incumbent Crystal Tomion are running. Jeff Snow introduced himself as a write-in candidate at the district's budget hearing Monday, Chirco said.

Also on the ballot are propositions to purchase five school buses at a cost not to exceed $335,000, and to support local libraries' programs at a cost of $45,517.

The vote will be held from 1 to 9 p.m. May 21 at the high school in Room 229