Apr 24, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
The Marcellus Board of Education has adopted a $30,222,222 budget for the 2012-13 school year that will now be up to the voters to decide on May 15. Four board members voted in favor of adoption, while two were against, allowing the process to move forward.
“I would like to extend a big thank you to all involved in the process,” Superintendent Craig Tice said. “Everyone really rolled up their sleeves to get this done.”
Back in March, Tice send out 56 reduction-in-force letters letting employees know there were possible cuts looming, which had to be done per the labor contract between the employees and the district. Thanks to a retirement and some solid legwork by the board and others involved, the district was able to eliminate just 6.5 jobs, while 6 other positions were not filled. Board member David Kelly said the reasons for the cuts were due to declining enrollment.
The breakdown in job cuts is as follows: one full-time elementary branch teacher, 0.2 secondary English, 0.4 in secondary science, 0.2 in business, one K-12 art teacher – that’s the retirement – 2.4 special education (this is a direct correlation to declining enrollment. There is still one dual-certified educator left.), one from BOCES support and 0.3 in administrative cuts. This amounts to about $400,000 in staff cuts, Tice said.
Many factors came into play for the budget, Kelly said. Foundation aid from the state has been frozen at $7.9 million since the 2008-09 year, and this year’s total state aid was $11,597,000, which is down about $346,000 from last year.
The gap elimination, which takes away the amount of aid given from the state, was $2.144 million this year, and if the district didn’t have to deal with that, some of the positions cut could have been avoided. Kelly, though, wasn’t upset about it.
“That happens in every single district,” he said in a lengthy phone interview. “It’s all the same, and it’s based on the size of the district’s overall budget.”
To break it down, the Syracuse district’s budget elimination is much more than Marcellus’ simply because it has a much larger overall budget, according to Kelly.
“The goal of the new budget was to have no negative impact on the education of our children or the programs,” he said. “We wanted to be respectful the staff and to the community. We did a very thorough cleansing of the budget to find the best way to move forward.”
The modified sports program was impacted, as the number of teams was reduced to five from 10, but Marcellus was able to retain a full-time athletic director and a full-time librarian. The district also cut $302,876 in line-item equipment and materials. The position of assistant building administrator was cut to an 11-month position, down from a full year. An addition to the district is that it will now be offering a full-time kindergarten class
Kelly said the board was happy that it stayed within the 2.17 percent tax levy, which generated $358,458 in revenue. In turn, though, the district had to dip into its reserves. Kelly said, to balance the budget, the district had to use about $711,000 in fund reserves, leaving approximately $959,000 left in the bank.
“Balancing the budget was, overall, a very difficult process, especially with declining enrollment and without cutting any programs,” he said.
Kelly added that there have been discussions about opening up the district to outsiders, who would have to pay tuition, although that’s still in the possibility phase.
“The kindergarten program could be great for families who are moving to the area,” he added.
The board has finished the budget newsletter that will be sent out sometime this week, Kelly said. The newsletter outlines and summarizes the entire budget process, so voters will be aware come the May 15 vote. The budget will hold one last forum on May 8 so voters and members of the community can have any last questions answered.
Neil Benjamin Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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