ESM proposed budget bridges funding gap

East Syracuse Minoa Superintendent Donna DeSiato presented a proposed budget for the 2011-12 school year on March 21 that calls for a reduction in total spending over the current year's budget, driven by significant cuts in revenues from the local, state and federal governments.

The budget gap of $8.7 million was largely based on an expected 18 percent loss in state aid, reduction of local sales tax revenues, and a sunset of federal funding that was initiated two years ago, in addition to mandated employee benefit increases.

Last year, the total budget was approximately $72 million. On March 21, DeSiato proposed a budget of approximately $71.5 million. The tax levy will increase under this proposed budget by 1.93 percent, or about $32 annually for a home valued at $100,000. The 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.

Overall, more than 17 positions will be eliminated through attrition - meaning that open positions (e.g. due to retirement) will not be filled. An additional 31 positions in both instructional and non-instructional areas will be eliminated to help close the budget gap.

"This is a difficult process and we are grateful for the support of our staff and the understanding of our community in helping to create a budget that sustains our programs," DeSiato said. "The challenge is to make sure these reductions do not compromise what our students need and what our community expects."

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. A list of proposed reductions follows:

Reduction in supplies, conferences, postage and non-personnel items $321,109

Wage concessions - Instructional & Custodial Employees $623,907

Administrative positions-wage freeze & concessions/reduction $328,141

Attrition (instructional & non-instructional) $787,410

Consolidation/efficiencies in non-instructional areas $815,217

Instructional areas based on enrollment & program needs $830,409

BOCES Special Education Services $222,054

Reduction in non-mandated summer programs $118,035

Reduction in custodial overtime & summer workers $39,877

Reduction & efficiencies in transportation $30,000

Savings in extra-curricular areas $60,830

The board will next meet at 7 p.m. Monday April 4 at the ESM High School library.

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