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Frontier board approves budget calling for 2.19% hike in tax rate

The Frontier School Board adopted a $72.28 million budget for 2012-13 Tuesday night that calls for a 2.19 percent tax rate increase and will cut about 10 fewer positions than had originally been expected. It also will save a popular elementary enrichment program.

In an 8-0 vote, the board backed the latest revisions to close a remaining budget gap of $154,833 and help restore 2.4 positions and save eight teaching positions that were slated to be cut or reduced to part time.

The board held the tax levy, the amount to be raised in taxes, at the level of its 2.7 percent permitted cap. Overall, budget appropriations dropped by 3.4 percent, or $2.3 million.

The board also approved a five-year contract with the Frontier Teachers' Association, representing 454 teachers and covering July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2016. The district said it would release terms of the contract today.

The board backed Superintendent James Bodziak's suggestion to pull an additional $500,000 from reserves, which allowed it to close the remaining budget deficit, cover projected unemployment and retirement costs for the upcoming year and also restore 2.4 full-time-equivalent positions.

Those jobs include one contingent elementary position to plug in at a needed "hot spot," Bodziak said. In addition, one position has been reinstated for the SAIL enrichment program at the elementary division, and a 0.4 reading position at the elementary level to help struggling students.

The board accepted retirement notifications for six teachers in addition to three earlier notices for a total of nine retirements, which Bodziak said is allowing eight of those teaching slots to be filled.

In all, the district expects to have to cut the full-time equivalent of 29.1 jobs, down from the original 39.5 projection, but it also expects to have to cut another 17 support staff and 2.4 administrators. However, Bodziak later said that the district is working with both groups and there may be some forthcoming changes in the latter two areas.

Frontier is receiving nearly $600,000 more in state aid, although $211,000 of the increase was anticipated and had been included in the earlier preliminary budget draft. Of the remaining $389,000, the board decided to set aside $200,000 in the budget for dire instructional purposes. The remaining $189,000 was placed in reserves.

The newly adopted budget means that, for a home assessed at $100,000, the property owner's school tax bill would increase by $52.43 to $2,447.

The board also approved other propositions for the May 15 ballot, including a controversial one prompted by a petition calling for the downsizing of the nine-member board to seven. Five members voted to place the proposition on the ballot, while two opposed it, one abstained and one was absent.

Also approved to be placed on the ballot was a proposition for a nonvoting student to be appointed to serve on the board.

Voters also will face an $896,090 transportation proposition to buy school buses and grounds maintenance equipment.