Property owners in Southern School District can expect to pay more in property taxes thanks in part to cuts in state and federal money for education and higher retirement and health insurance costs.

The school board recently approved a proposed budget for the 2012-13 school year that calls for a property tax increase of 0.33 mills, or 1.96 percent, taking the tax rate from 16.62 to 17.17 mills. That means an increase of $56.10 for a home assessed at $170,000.

The new budget totals $47,516,120 and is $1.7 million more than the 2011-12 budget.

That $1.7 million is because of three main factors:

--- An additional $860,000 in the district's mandated contribution to the state's retirement system

--- An additional $600,000 in medical insurance costs even though employee costs have more than doubled

--- A $300,000 debt for the Friendship Elementary building project.

In putting the budget together, officials were also dealing with a loss of $900,000 in state and federal aid.

To help make up the difference, the new budget uses $1.4 million from the fund balance, coupled with $920,250 in spending cuts that include reductions in staff -- including six teachers and two support staff due to retirement or attrition -- a reduction in staff development conferences and substitutes, and a 5 percent reduction in department and building budgets.

In addition, the district will charge admission to junior high sports and varsity field hockey; families will be responsible for disposable gear; and the number of supplemental contracts for co-curricular activities has been reduced.

First Student will once again hold the line by keeping transportation costs at current rates, and the fleet will be reduced by one van.

Salaries account for 48.3 percent of the budget and benefits for another 21.3 percent; however, there are no salary increases because the administration, teachers and support staff agreed last year to a voluntary wage freeze for the 2012-13 school year.

What's next

Detailed budget information is available on the district website,, and at all district schools, at the administration office, and at Glen Rock and Shrewsbury public libraries.

The school board is expected to adopt a final budget at its 7 p.m. May 24 meeting in the district administration building. That meeting is a week later than usual to allow for the legally required 30-window for the budget to be available for public review.