Butler School Taxes Could Rise Nearly 4 Percent
Health benefits, special education tuition drive up costs, some layoffs may be necessary.
Butler school taxes will rise 3.95 percent in the 2013-14 year under the terms of a tentative $21.459 million budget adopted by the Butler Board of Education on Tuesday evening.
That would result in the annual property tax bill for an average borough home assessed at $251,612 increasing by $147.05 or $12.25 per month, Superintendent of Schools Mario Cardinale explained.
The proposed budget is 3.38 percent more than the 2012-13 $20.75 million budget.
“It is not an out-of-line increase,” Cardinale said, adding that the tax increase is “reasonable.”
The biggest cost driver in the budget increase is a $450,828 increase in health benefits. Other factors in the budget increase are a $216,718 rise in special education tuition, an $104,873 increase in unemployment and $174,000 to implement a full-day kindergarten program
The increases for health insurance and tuition will allow the school district to be exempt from the state 2 percent budget cap, Cardinale said. Those factors could have resulted in an almost 7 percent increase in taxes, the superintendent said.
To maintain a “reasonable tax levy,” Cardinale outlined recommended cuts, including a full-time English teacher and full-time social studies teacher, both at the high school. Cardinale said the elimination of those positions would not significantly rise class sizes.
Also targeted for cuts are a full-time child study team member, a part-time middle school technology teacher, a part-time middle school music teacher and a part-time middle school librarian. The part-time middle school music teacher was teaching one period a day. A high school teacher will now teach two periods a day at the middle school, he said. Additionally on the list to be cut is a part-time elementary art teacher, a part-time ESL/BSI elementary teacher and a part-time general pre-K teacher.
Those cuts will allow the district to start new programs in the 2013-14 school year. The board has already approved the start of a full-day kindergarten program, which requires two new teachers and two new kindergarten aides.
“Good SAT scores start at kindergarten,” Cardinale said.
A new first-grade teacher will be hired to accommodate an expected enrollment increase. The district will also add a second pre-K disabled class to cut down on pupils who would have been placed outside the district, the superintendent said.
“We can do a wonderful job by bringing these youngsters back,” Cardinale said.
A new multiple disabled class at the high school will also be added to reduce out-of-district tuition. That will require the addition of a full-time teacher and converting a social worker from part time to full time.
“This budget is as lean as it can be,” Business Administrator David Rinderknecht said. “No stone was left unturned.”
The public hearing on the budget is scheduled for March 21.