Weedsport Shaun O'Connor

 Weedsport Central School District

The Weedsport Central School District's 2017-2018 budget includes a 1.98-percent tax levy increase.

The budget was finalized at a school board meeting Monday. The state property tax cap set for the district this year was 3.47 percent.

The overall budget is $20,147,217, a 1.21-percent hike from the previous year.

"That's our lowest budget-to-budget increase since 2012 to 2013," superintendent Shaun O'Connor said.

O'Connor and assistant superintendent for business Doug Tomandl said the universal pre-kindergarten program the district has set for the fall was one of the biggest cost drivers. O'Connor said the price of the program is estimated to be at a ballpark figure of $100,000, at the costs for a teacher, a teaching aid and materials. O'Connor said the school board and administration both viewed the UPK program as a high priority, as implementing it will be important "beyond the short term."

The teachers' retirement system rates dropped this year, which helped with costs, Tomandl and O'Connor said. Health insurance stayed flat.

Weedsport special education students will also be moved from the local BOCES program to the district's in-house programs to meet those students' needs.

No staff cuts are expected, and two special education aids will be added, plus the two new UPK staff members.

Proposals for the vote include approving the budget and buying one bus at a cost not to exceed $120,000. Citizens will also be able to decide whether or not to accept the $76,785 tax levy for the Weedsport Public Library.

The option to create a capital reserve for future projects to be established for a ten-year period and funded up to $500,000 over the course of that decade will also be on the ballot.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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Education Reporter