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Harrison Facing Tough School Budget Season

HARRISON, N.Y. – Harrison Central School District Superintendent Louis Wool said that the preliminary school budget that will be released Wednesday night will do its best to preserve current programs and services within the district.

Since the state imposed a 2 percent tax cap on the tax levy for municipal and school taxes last year, both entities no longer have the ability to raise taxes as much as they would like to.

Wool said that the only way the district will be able to sustain programs in the face of the tax cap is due to long-term financial planning. But unfunded mandates alone will come close to exceeding the tax cap. Wool said that the district will use its reserves in the short-term but the long-term model will require reduction of services over time.

“We are in the process of reviewing all personnel issues, but to date we have not finalized any decisions,” Wool said. “We anticipate reducing staff, but it is our hope to do so without impacting current employees.”

Unfunded mandates from the state are decreasing options school districts have on how they can spend their money. One unfunded mandate facing not only Harrison, but all school districts statewide, is mandatory participation in programs such as an annual professional performance review, which Wool said is a “high-cost” to the school district.

One way to reduce costs is to look at a teacher retirement incentive as well as analyze any current vacancies to see how best they could be filled, if at all. But even so, Wool said that the tax cap will eventually result in the school having to eliminate some of its programs.

“The tax cap will also result in increased class sizes and eventually, unless a more sustainable solution to funding public education is implemented, the end of high-quality public education,” Wool said.

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