Jan 30, 2012 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The Skaneateles Central School District will receive only a 0.25 percent increase in state aid under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent budget proposal for 2012.
“That 4 percent [state aid] they talked about distributing [to school districts] — we didn’t see that,” Dale Bates, assistant superintendent for business and finance, told the school board at its Jan. 24 meeting.
On the contrary, Bates said, when all the current numbers are added up — which includes the loss of money in federal jobs assistance, decrease in county sales tax and the limits of the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap — Skaneateles will have to reduce its 2012-13 budget by $717,000 to stay out of the red.
If the school board chooses to seek a 3 percent tax levy increase, which would have to be approved by a super-majority public referendum in order to override the state 2 percent limit, that would change the necessary budget reduction to about $505,000, Bates said.
“We’re still looking at the possible [budget] reduction areas,” Bates said. “In the next month-and-a-half we’ll have some options for the board.”
These options referred to the list of non-state-mandated programs currently offered by the district that could be cut out of the budget to save money. Bates gave the school board members a list of all non-mandated programs at their Jan. 10 work session, which had a cumulative cost of $6.5 million.
The possible areas for cuts ranged from minor items such as reducing postage, eliminating staff association memberships and eliminating school newsletters to major programs such as eliminating sports and arts programs, contracting out technology classes and services, and staff reductions.
Responding to questions from the board, Bates said the state legislature may add some additional school aid increases in its version of the state budget; but he said he does not “hold out a lot of hope” that the lost federal jobs money will be restored by Congress this year.
District Superintendent Phil D’Angelo also gave a presentation to the board on how the district is developing the proposed budget for the 2012-13 school year.
“Even though [the state] said schools get increases in state aid [this year], that’s debatable,” especially when you look at each district’s particular situation, D’Angelo said.
He showed the board via powerpoint presentation lists and charts that had breakdowns of the challenges the district faces, BOE and administrators’ priorities, and the specific needs and priorities for each school in the district. One theme running through every school building was a focus on maintaining manageable class sizes.
Explaining the ideas behind whether or not to cut certain class offerings, D’Angelo said students’ academic programs are mapped out, sometimes beginning in ninth grade, so the district cannot “arbitrarily” cut classes from the curriculum because to do so could jeopardize students’ graduation plans.
The charts also included a listing of district enrollment from the 2007-08 to the 2014-15 school year. The current numbers show 1,710 students in the district during 2007-08, and a projected 1,485 students in the district in 2014-15.
The district’s current four school buildings are a necessity to hold the number of students in the district, but if the total enrollment drops below 1,400, then the district can and most likely will close a building as a school and look to lease the facility out as a means to generate some additional revenue, D’Angelo said.
All the 2012-13 budget updates and information currently under discussion by the district — including possible cuts — is posted on the district website, or will be posted as it becomes available. “We want to be as transparent about this as possible,” D’Angelo said.
To view the district’s 2012-13 budget information, go to skanschools.org/Budget.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.