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Most New York school districts are proposing to hold their per-pupil tax levies within the levels permitted by a new statewide property tax cap, and the average proposed per-pupil spending increase is at or below the projected inflation rate in six out of nine regions of the state, according to an analysis issued today by the Empire Center for Public Policy.

The Empire Center’s 2012-13 School Budget Spotlight focuses on proposed tax and spending changes measured on a per-pupil basis for school districts that have submitted data for the State Education Department’s annual school property tax report cards. State law requires these reports to be issued at least 10 days before annual school board elections and budget votes, which will be held this year on Tuesday, May 15.

Some key trends revealed by the Empire Center report:

Spending per-pupil, excluding schools in the state’s five largest cities, will increase by an average of 2.4 percent, reaching a statewide average of $20,987 – nearly $500 higher than the 2011-12 per-pupil spending level. The state Division of the Budget has projected the consumer price index will increase by 2.2 percent in state fiscal year fiscal 2012-13.

On a regional basis, the biggest proposed spending increases are on Long Island, where the per-pupil average is 2.9 percent among the schools in the state sample. The Capital Region has the lowest increases, with proposed per-pupil spending hikes of 1.4 percent. The Finger Lakes and Mid-Hudson regions also were above average at 2.8 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.

Per-pupil tax levies will increase by an average of 3 percent, to a statewide average of $12,256. This is 0.6 percent below the average level permitted by the tax cap, which tax levy hikes 2 percent plus excluded items that vary by district.

Fifty-one districts proposed budgets exceeding the tax cap, which will require approval by more than 60 percent of school district voters.

The School Budget Spotlight, including regional table and district-by-district breakdowns, can be downloaded here.

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