Skaneateles school budget little affected by governor’s proposals

— 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.

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