After recently receiving an additional $40,893 in state aid, the Cazenovia Central School District Board of Education is continuing to move toward finalizing the 2012-13 budget.
Amid the district’s $158,200 gap and 1.6 percent tax levy limit, it seems there will be no cuts to teaching positions or agriculture programming this year. More than 100 residents attended the April 2 budget work session, where more than 30 students, parents and tax-payers voiced their concerns and suggestions.
The board will present its final draft of the upcoming budget on April 16.
“At this time, agriculture [programming] and the social studies teacher position are not on the list to be cut, but we haven’t voted on the budget yet, so technically it could change,” said BOE President Fritz Koennecke.
The board had previously been considering reducing agriculture course availability, and one teaching position in the high school. More than half of those who spoke during the public communication period were in support of keeping the full list of offered agriculture programs and social studies teacher Mary Kathryn Lonergan.
In addition to numerous students and science teacher Eric Jerabek, Thomas Murlin – an English teacher who was considered as a cut during last year’s budget talks – addressed the board in favor of keeping Lonergan on staff. “I have never met a better, more passionate teacher,” he said.
More than a dozen current and former students of the high school’s agriculture program and Future Farmers of America stressed the importance of agriculture education in the high school and surrounding area. A 1987 graduate of Cazenovia High School, who had gone on to experience professional success in the agribusiness industry, reminded all in attendance, “Before we became the Lakers, we were the Cazenovia Cornhuskers.”
Another proposed cut that garnered much public input was the seventh and eighth grade boys and girls basketball teams. Each team, which boasts an average of 13 players, currently costs the district about $4,000. The board discussed the possibility of merging both grades into one team, forming a boys and a girls modified basketball team.
While this is already done with sports like football, soccer and lacrosse, residents argued the winter sport is important to all of the players and increasing the competition among students would leave many behind. “By reducing team size, you’ll be taking opportunities away from students,” said Eighth Grade Girls Basketball Coach Mark Evans.
Items still being considered for cuts on the upcoming budget include one teaching assistant position, providing $37,000; one-and-a-half support staff positions, providing $39,000; weight room advisors, the girls swim team and the seventh-grade boys and girls basketball teams, providing $22,000; as well as $60,000 of administrative costs, which are partially covered by the departure of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Donna Fountain.
Other ideas posed by residents included cutting cooking classes and moving volleyball from fall back to winter, so girls who may be cut from the potential modified basketball team will have another option.
Board members thanked all who attended and spoke, saying all comments will be taken into consideration as they continue toward crafting the official 2012-13 budget. “The board has not decided on anything, and is still examining everything,” said BOE Vice President Karin Marris.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.