By Matthew Saari

The Hartford Central School District is proposing a $13.4 million budget for the 2020-2021 school year, which will maintain current programs and staffing.

The spending plan, which stands at $13,405,200, includes a 1.74% tax levy increase in addition to the district drawing $750,000 from reserves.

Hartford school superintendent Andrew Cook noted a lot is still unknown for public schools, due to the state’s periodic “look backs,” the first of which was April 30.

“We’re moving forward based on the information we have,” Cook said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and expected state budgetary shortfalls, legislators enacted periodic “look back” sessions throughout the year, the first of which was April 30. If the state budget is found to be lacking at those times, legislators will pull state funding. However, no definitive answers have been provided from the first session as yet.

“We’re in a waiting game,” Cook said.

Because of the unknowns – including two more “look backs” throughout the year – the district budget is subject to change.

Of note, the Hartford school budget is about 64% state money, equating to $8.5 million.

Cook highlighted the budget does represent a “just over” 5% increase in spending, attributing it to a debt service payment tied to the district’s recently completed $3.9 million capital project. However, Cook said, state aid should offset the cost.

In addition to the budget, district residents will  vote to approve the purchase of a 66-passenger bus and one van, with a cost not to exceed $150,000.

As always, the vote also includes re-electing school board officials. In Hartford, board member Adam Fish is running unopposed for a five-year term.

The district budget vote and school board election will be held on Tuesday, June 9, by absentee ballot.

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