Garden City residents overwhemingly approved the 2012-2013 proposed budget for the school district, with more than 63 percent voting in favor of its passage.
Garden City Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Feirsen released the following statement in response to Tuesday's vote:
"The Board of Education thanks the community for its support of the 2012-13 school district budget. The budget will enable our school district to maintain the programs and the high performance for which it is well known. The Board and the administration thank the community for the careful consideration it gave to the budget and for its efforts to understand the complexities of the tax cap levy legislation and the cap’s impact on the budget design process. The budget for 2012-13 strikes a balance that demonstrates fiscal prudence and recognizes the importance of sustaining the Garden City tradition of high quality education, a tradition that helps make our community a “destination location” for the entire tri-state area."
Among the factors driving the budget up this year were unfunded mandates, rising pension and healthcare costs for employees, debt service for the 2009 School Investment Bond, Special Education and contractual salary increases, albeit there was a reduction of $680K in the latter due to a new contract with the teachers union.
To offset some of these increases, the district also reached contract settlements with its paraprofessionals and CSEA, and is "judiciously" reducing staff based on declining enrollment. Staff reductions include one seventh grade core subject teacher, one bus driver and 1.2 full-time administrative business office positions. These cuts, however, are supplemented by two reserve positions, one general education and one special education teacher in case of enrollment increase, according to Garden City Superintendent Robert Feirsen.
The budget also makes some minimal reductions and cuts to athletics. Four team rosters will be reduced, the high school strength and conditioning program will be eliminated, and 31 coaching positions will be cut - 21 assistant coaches, four head strength and conditioning coaches and six middle school intramural coaches. To offset these reductions, the budget allows for an increase of 10 intramural supervisors for the middle and high schools.
The district also tapped into some of its reserves, and realized savings through its participation in numerous consortia and its Energy Performance Contract. For more on the budget, click here.
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