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Beaver River budget to include 2 percent tax levy hike

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BEAVER FALLS — The Beaver River Central School District budget would raise spending by 2.55 percent and the tax levy by 2 percent.

“Obviously, the focus is to try to improve and enhance educational components,” Business Manager Randolph M. Myers said.

Spending in the proposed 2014-15 budget is at $16,945,582, up $421,197 from this year’s $16,524,385.

The levy, or total amount to be raised by property taxes, would increase by $96,891, from $4,844,533 to $4,941,424. The state property tax cap allows the district to raise the levy as much as 4.75 percent, Mr. Myers said.

Final tax rates are unavailable until the town tax rolls are completed in August.

State funding is projected to increase by $654,032, or 7.1 percent, to $9.86 million.

“It’s certainly a godsend for our students that we’re getting an increase,” District Superintendent Leueen Smithling said.

Mrs. Smithling said that since state education aid was cut in 2010-11 through the gap-elimination adjustment, her district’s average loss per student of nearly $6,000 is the highest in any school in the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services District.

Along with last year’s reclassification of Beaver River as a high-need rural district, this has resulted in double-digit increases in state aid over the past couple of years, helping in part to make up for several very lean years, she said.

With the additional state funding, district officials plan to reduce fund balance use by $230,000, from $2.1 million to $1.87 million.

District officials plan to add an extra third-grade teacher to accommodate more students, along with a returning part-time home and careers teacher and librarian positions to full-time status.

A teacher who splits time teaching English and Spanish will become a full-time English teacher, with the district planning to seek a new, part-time Spanish teacher, Mrs. Smithling said.

Overall salaries are projected to increase by $235,247 to $6.46 million, while fringe benefits are to rise by $364,411 to $3.85 million.

A budget hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Monday in the auditorium, and the annual budget vote will be from 1 to 8 p.m. May 20, also in the auditorium.

Along with voting on the proposed budget, district residents also will be asked to approve a proposition allowing the district to purchase three school buses through borrowing $303,074.

Board of Education members Christine Lashbrooks and David Meyer are running unopposed for new five-year seats, while fellow incumbent Bobby Cobb is running unopposed for a three-year term.

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