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Caz teachers help district beat budget deficit

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.

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