The Cazenovia School Board and administrators have come up with a preliminary plan to meet a $2.2 million deficit in its tentative $25.7 million budget.
A small tax increase, general cost reductions, and a tentative agreement with the teacher’s union (Cazenovia United Educators) will help to close the gap.
“I want to thank the union for a great working relationship and the hard work they’ve done,” Superintendent Bob Dubik said. “All of us have worked hard together to keep the students in mind, employees, programs and the community in mind through this financial crisis.”
About two hundred residents, students and staff members populated the audience the evening of March 21, and many seemed satisfied to hear of the cost-saving strategies. About four residents took the microphone during the meeting’s two public communications.
While one resident offered his thoughts towards decreasing school bus costs, the other speakers applauded both the board and union for their negotiations.
“The teachers and the board of education have done a commendable job reaching a workable arrangement,” Cazenovia resident Jerry Romagnoli said. “I applaud all efforts.”
Cazenovia teachers, as well as Dubik, have agreed to take a pay freeze for the 2010-11 school year and pay more towards their prescription drug costs. A few teaching positions will be eliminated in the preliminary budget, but aside from minimal decreases because of declining enrollment, the staff reductions will be covered by retirements.
Assistant Superintendent Bill Furlong gave a power-point presentation at the board of education meeting, showing those in attendance just how the district will be able to sustain the curriculum and teaching positions.
Due to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s planned two-percent property tax cap and proposed budget, Cazenovia schools were facing a deficit of $1.25 million. Coupled with uncontrollable cost increases, such as diesel fuel and the retirement system, the total budget gap had grown to $2.2 million.
Optimistic that Cuomo’s initial budget proposal was a low-balled negotiation tactic, Furlong explained that the situation the district has prepared to address should only improve. “Hopefully we’ll see a resumption of increases in state aid. That will help take some of the costs out of our budget,” he said. “We don’t know if the budget restoration will be using the same formula as when they cut our aid. If it is, we might see a couple hundred-thousand dollars.”
Dubik was happy to present the district’s preliminary plan to close the gap, but was weary of the obstacles that the next year may hold. “I hope we’re not at this again next year, as far as the financial crisis; but right now the way the state is, we will be in the same situation,” he said. “The contracts and the concessions that all the groups have agreed to have really helped. I hope the community will be happy with it.”
At the last board of education meeting on Feb. 14, numerous speakers shared their concerns; of these, many students spoke up for their English teacher, Thomas Murlin, and the Agriculture Department. At the most recent meeting, it was announced that both Murlin and the agriculture programs (including the FFA) will still have a spot in Cazenovia.
The next Cazenovia Board of Education meeting will be held on April 11.