Marcellus school board adopts $29.99 million spending plan

The Marcellus school board voted 7-0 Tuesday night to adopt a $29,993,883 spending plan for 2011-12 that raises the tax levy by 3.9 percent and uses almost half the district's remaining reserves.

The plan, which is 2.81 percent less than the current budget, eliminates 21.7 full-time positions, including 12.2 teachers. It also cuts 9.5 part-time positions.

District Superintendent Craig Tice said balancing the budget was a difficult process.

"There are no good answers in laying off staff, reducing programs, depleting district reserves because of an uncertain economic future, and raising taxes during difficult fiscal times," Tice said.

The full-time reductions include 5.2 elementary, 5.6 secondary level, 3.4 FTE in Pupil Personnel Services and 7.5 FTE in support staff (administrative, transportation, custodial and clerical). 9.5 of the full-time reductions are through attrition while 12.2 are through lay-offs.

The district, which relies on state aid to balance about 45 percent of its budget, lost 11.56 percent ($1.5 million) in state aid this year. It also owes $480,110 to teacher and employee retirement funds, an increase of about 33 percent, school officials said.

The district used $1,463,812 in reserves to balance the budget. Some employees agreed to a wage freeze, while others agreed to smaller increases for the 2011-12 school year.

Administrators, including Tice, agreed to freeze their pay, which will save the district about $20,000. The district's 33 bus drivers also took a wage freeze, saving the district $15,000.

The district's 175 teachers agreed to a 2 percent increase instead of the 4.25 percent owed to them in their contracts, saving the district $234,042. The 86 support staff also took a 2 percent increase for a savings of about $31,000.

The Marcellus school district will not fund any field trips in 2011-12. In athletics, the district will not cut a single team from its program, but nine assistant coaches will not return.

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