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Marcellus Schools narrows in on budget

Marcellus Superintendent Craig Tice said the school board plans to vote on a budget Tuesday April 19 -- right on the deadline.

On Monday he said the numbers were still being adjusted, but anticipated the 2010-11 spending plan to be less than that of this year. He said the district was also still waiting on concessions from its bargaining units.

Funding for programming would increase if the school's unions accept wage freezes, but only if the concession are made before the budget is adopted by the board. Funds acquired through a wage freeze secured after the budget is adopted can only go toward reducing the tax levy or fund balance, Tice said.

A district-wide salary freeze would save the district an estimated $542,728. As of last week, only administrators had agreed to freeze their pay for the coming year for a savings of $18,867. At last night's board meeting, faculty and bus drivers agreed to a wage freeze, which will be finalized at the April 19 meeting.

"By then we also hope to have wage concessions finalized from the support staff and the office professionals/secretaries," Tice said.

Feedback driven

At a town meeting April 4 at Driver Middle School, Tice said based on feedback from the two "World Caf " community input sessions and the community survey, which went out with the January newsletter, the district adjusted its level of cuts to target: attrition through retirements; reductions due to declining enrollment; limited number of programming cuts so as not to impact the children; and investigating others ways to save money by sharing services, asking employees for a wage freeze, or combining duties of remaining employees.

During the question and answer session that followed the meeting, community members stressed the importance of providing a balanced education to students.

Sheila Kelly, a teacher at Onondaga Community College who has had three kids go through the district, said the mission at OCC is similar to that of Marcellus- "to work with the whole individual."

"So I'm hoping that what comes out of this is very little if any reduction of anything that's considered not core," Kelly said, adding that subjects like English, science, history and math "will probably go on no matter what."

"But I don't want to see the music go, the arts go, the athletics go, because I think in all of those we are adding dimensions to our kids' lives that they won't have if we lose this," she said.

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