Placid school budget would raise taxes 2%

WILMINGTON – The Lake Placid Central School District held its first hearing Tuesday night in Wilmington on the proposed 2014-15 school budget that would raise taxes 2 percent and increase elementary classroom sizes.

The next budget hearing is scheduled in Lake Placid Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Superintendent Roger Catania gave an overview of the budget to about a half-dozen people at the meeting. There was little public comment made.

“Our number-one priority here is students, first and foremost,” Catania said. “When we are looking how we want to spend our money, this is what we put at the top of the list.”

The $17,634,834 school budget plans to raise the tax levy by 2.09 percent, within the state’s tax cap. The levy, or the amount to be raised from local property taxes, would be $14,498,512. The property tax rate per $1,000 would be $6.93.

On May 20, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., a public vote will be held in the Wilmington Community Center and Lake Placid Elementary School.

Patricia Stanton, a candidate for the school board, asked about program changes in the budget.

“It’s possible that we would not be able to offer one or two elective classes we offer,” Catania said. “We don’t know what they are yet. … Those classes would be what impacts students least, classes with the smallest numbers of students in them.”

A reduction of 3.1 full-time equivalent teaching positions is included in the budget.

“Mostly through attrition,” Catania said. “We will not be replacing one teacher and a teaching assistant. Two other areas we are reducing staffing; one is a tech support position.”

An industrial technology teacher will be reduced from full time to half time.

Catania said classroom sizes will likely increase to 22 to 23 students per class in two grades in the elementary school. The average classroom size there is about 14 to 15 students, he said.

School board President Mary Dietrich said the school district attempts to keep classroom size lower for younger students in kindergarten through second grades.

Five retirements are expected next year and the school district will hire two new people to replace BOCES special education service, which will save the district money.

Taxpayers will also vote on two referendum questions. The first question asks voters whether or not they approve of leasing three school buses at a cost not to exceed $57,000. The second question asks voters to decide on giving $13,000 worth of funding to the E.M Cooper Memorial Public Library in Wilmington, a $1,000 increase from last year.

Enzo Villani, Camelia Sheridan and Stanton are running uncontested for three school board seats.

After the vote, an exit poll will be taken on whether or not voters support giving veterans a partial property tax exemption. The total tax shift from veterans to non-veterans would equal approximately $59,100. A public vote will be held next year on the veterans exemption.

“That will help us make the decision; it’s not binding,” Dietrich said.

Contact Matthew Turner at 891-2600 ext. 25 or