The budget season has begun at the and according to Superintendent of Schools Dr. George Stone, the $157,235,514 budget will remain the same in 2012-2013.
"In other words we will be proposing no increase in the total budget to budget amount," Stone said. "In today's economy that is as responsible as we could possibly be."
He said the budget tax levy increase will stay below 2 percent and administrators don't believe this is the time to consider an override.
During his overview of the budget he presented to board of education members last week; however, he said Lakeland would need to reduce its budget and add revenues that total $1.85 million in order to stay below the New York State tax levy cap. The zero increase in the budget would mean a 4-percent tax levy increase, and therefore the district will have to look at reductions, he said.
Stone pointed to increasing pensions and health benefits costs, energy costs, and unfunded mandates as factors that will affect the budget. Still unknown factors include state aid, enrollments, savings in the current budget, and potential retirements.
"It is getting harder and harder to find ways for districts to reduce their budgets further than they already have in the past few years," Stone said. "In Lakeland we are doing extensive research and extensive planning. While we are committed to maintaining the outstanding quality of our educational programs we have to examine everything."
The district has been meeting with representatives of the district's employee groups, reviewing enrollment projections, and considering retirement incentives.
"We remain committed to preparing a budget that maintains our levels of excellence while meeting our fiscal responsibilities," Stone said.
The district made $1.8 million in reductions in the current year's 2011-2012 budget by .
The first of a four-part budget presentation was held on Jan. 5 where topics included operational, transportation, and general support budgets.
The next budget meeting will be held on Feb. 2 at the Administration Building in Shrub Oak. Topics for that meeting include debt service, technology and employee benefits.
The Lakeland School District has a population of 6,323 students who live in six different towns: the towns of Yorktown, Cortlandt and Somers in Westchester County, as well as Carmel, Philipstown and Putnam Valley in Putnam County.
Residents can view a video of the board meeting on the district's website or local cable channels. On the FIOS systems, you can view district programming on Channel 34 in both Yorktown and Cortlandt. On Cablevision systems programs can be seen in Yorktown (Channel 18; Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.) and Cortlandt (Channel 77, Tuesday through Sunday.)