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Board adopts school budget; Several programs from past reinstated

The Cleveland Hill School Board unanimously adopted a $29.7 million budget for the 2012-13 school year Wednesday night, a spending plan that proposes an estimated property tax rate increase of 1.49 percent.

The proposed budget increases overall spending by 2.49 percent. The new state law that caps property tax increases allows Cleveland Hill to ask for a tax levy hike of up to 2.36 percent, but the board settled on a raise of 1.49 percent.

The estimated rate for property owners would be $44.46 per $1,000 of assessed value, which amounts to an increase of about $66 on a home valued at $100,000.

The proposed budget adds back several programs that were eliminated in years past, including a part-time Spanish instructor position, the high school musical program, jazz band, modified sports and cheerleading. The district also hopes to add funding for various extracurricular clubs and equipment purchases.

With several programs added back into the budget, Superintendent Jon MacbSwan believes they will be sustainable in future budgets, instead of getting cut again next year.

"We do believe that this is a conservative and responsible budget," he said. "There's never any guarantees, but we have a good feeling."

The budget plan also includes $200,000 for technology updates and $100,000 to the capital fund to update existing mechanical systems to improve energy efficiency, both of which generate additional revenue from the state.

District officials credited the community for supporting Cleveland Hill's campaign to state leaders for funding equality. The state is set to increase aid to Cleveland Hill by about $777,000 next year.

"I think our state legislators awoke a sleeping giant," said board President Robert Polino. "The people who care about their children's education finally started pushing back."