Lawrence School District adopts budget

No tax increase and program additions are included


Five weeks after unveiling its draft budget the Lawrence School District adopted its proposed budget at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting. There is no tax increase and despite an expected loss of state and federal aid, it includes additions to educational programs.

At $93,150,155, the anticipated budget for the 2011-12 school year is $1 million less — or a 1 percent decrease — than the current operating budget. Based on district projections, Lawrence is expected to have a $2.7 million drop in overall aid.

The budget amount and in the loss in overall aid was revised from the draft budget, when the fiscal plan was first proposed as $92,980,154 and aid loss was estimated at $2.2 million.

Though the district made cuts to staff there was a slight increase in its pay out of benefits, officials said. The jump in aid loss is attributable to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed cut to special education funding that would cost Lawrence approximately $400,000, while another $100,000 loss is expected in federal and state grants.

“I stand behind this budget very strongly,” said Deputy Superintendent Gary Schall, who noted that further restructuring of the district’s special education program could include reassignment of staff and the loss of three positions through attrition.

In addition to a tax levy of $78,937,250 and expected state aid of $6,475,023, the district expects to finance the budget with projected various revenues of $3,160,017, an estimated surplus of $1.5 million, applying a tax reserve of $2,127,795 and other reserves pegged at $950,000.

“We are pleased with the budget as the budget maintains and enhances all the programs in the district and it is a fiscally responsible budget,” said BOE President Murray Forman.

A huge component of the Lawrence’s budget process was the laying off of 66 employees that began last year, along with a restructuring of the district. This created $2.2 million in savings, according to district officials.

The money will help pay for 15 Advanced Placement classes, a newly established debate class, an art elective, a new high school store, textbooks and improved security.

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