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Tax levy again dips for Greenfield schools

Budget highlights include technology initiatives this year

Sept. 10, 2013

Greenfield — For the second time in three years, the Greenfield School District annual meeting was able to approve a levy that was smaller than the previous year's tax total.

About 30 residents attended Monday's district annual meeting and approved a levy for the 2013-14 school year that's 0.57 percent lower than the levy for 2012-13. Last year's levy was up only 0.26 percent, but the year before, the levy fell slightly.

"The board was real pleased we could reduce the tax levy and at the same time put aside more than $1 million to upgrade our technology," School Board President Bruce Bailey said, noting that the upgrades will take place over the next couple of years.

The 2013-14 budget includes $125,000 to buy tablet computers for classrooms and additional technology upgrades. The School Board had originally planned to hire a technology specialist to help with the technology upgrade, but is now evaluating whether the money would be better spent having a teacher at each school serves as a part-time technology specialist, Bailey said.

School officials see technology as the most efficient way to improve student scores on standardized tests, he said.

Helping keep the tax levy down is a nearly $3 million increase in state aid. Added to that is a drop in debt service of about $9 million.

Those loosened up the budget to allow a nearly $3 million, or almost 8.5 percent, increase in the general fund, regarded as the operating budget. Capital projects will be up in the 2013-14 school year by about $164,000 and community service programs will increase about $34,000.

Overall though, the schools will spend 10 percent less than they did last year for all purposes, according to estimates. The total for all funds this year is nearly $52.4 million compared with $58 million in spending last year.

— Jane Ford-Stewart

AT A GLANCE

Residents at the Greenfield School District annual meeting on Monday approved a levy that will support a 2013-14 school budget of nearly $52.4 million. The budget details include:

2013-14 total budget: $52,368,442

Previous year's actual estimated budget: $58,233,059

Difference: down $5,864,617, or about 10 percent

2013-14 property tax levy: $24,817,472

Previous year's levy: $24,960,171

Difference: down 0.57 percent

2013-14 general fund (operating budget): $38,118,679

Previous estimated actual general fund spending: $35,137,280

Difference: up $2,981,399 or nearly 8.5 percent

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