Our ability to deliver a budget that reduces spending year-over-year (along with a tax levy increase under the proposed 2 percent projected tax cap) was made possible, in part, by the commitment of hundreds of members of the ESM school community. This included wage concessions for next year by our administrators, teachers and custodial staff that saved roughly $700,000, and instructional restructuring that saved considerably more. More than 15 instructional positions will be eliminated through attrition - meaning that open positions (e.g. due to retirement) will not be filled - but unfortunately, an additional 31 positions in both instructional and non-instructional areas will be eliminated to help close the budget gap. I report this with a heavy heart; these have been valuable members of our learning community.
Additional major efficiencies have been realized in non-personnel related items like printing services, postage, non-mandated summer programs and transportation. Numerous additional areas have experienced more modest reductions.
How will this proposed budget impact our schools? I am of the belief that we are well positioned to weather this storm. Enormous strides and gains have been made by our district over the past several years and our continued upward trajectory will not waver. We have done our best to mitigate any significant direct impacts to our students with the proposed budget, and the loss of certain instructional positions will be accounted for through program restructuring and shifts in enrollment. But I must caution that cuts like this cannot be sustained in subsequent years without seriously compromising the quality of our schools.
In summary, this budget preserves what is best for our students and community. And it ensures that the needs of our taxpayers are met in a thoughtful and responsible manner.
We look forward to a continued dialogue with our community about this proposed budget and continuing to deliver great value for our students and residents.
Dr. Donna DeSiato is the superintendent of the East Syracuse Minoa School District.