ITALY — The Italy School Board of Trustees unanimously approved the 2013/2014 budget and tax rate at a special meeting held following a public hearing Wednesday evening.

The tax rate was set at $1.246960 — $1.17 toward maintenance and operations and $0.076960 for interest and sinking.

Natasha Blackburn, business manager, said this is a $6.90 reduction per $100 valuation. She said this decrease is due to the decline in taxable values.

Trustees approved the budget at $5,934,607.

Blackburn said more than 80 percent of the budget goes toward salaries/human resources.

During the public hearing, Barry Bassett, superintendent, praised the school board for this budget.

He said the district will continue reimbursing students for ACT and SAT testing and increased the food budget for student travel on both the academic and athletic sides. He said trustees agreed to upgrade/improve facilities and purchase a new bus.

Bassett said they implemented staff incentive pay, improved teacher step raises, and added a three percent raise for at-will staff.

He said they also increased the school’s portion of staff insurance from $250 to $350 per month. He said this will allow some employees or spouses to add dental and vision insurance who are not currently covered.

They also added a 21st step for teachers who have been at the district for more than 20 years.