North Syracuse schools: Department heads discuss budgets

— “The athletic department has taken large cuts in the past two years,” the presentation noted. “This being the third year, we would even [out] all sports teams across the program. The sports program is less than 1 percent of the school’s total budget, which services more than 2,300 students [in grades] seven through 12.”

Business office

The business office has managed to cut its costs, reducing its overall budget by 2.5 percent. However, the business office’s presentation also included information on the district’s debt service and benefits. Costs in both of those areas went up. For example, the district is now responsible for making payments on the B.A.N. principal for the Smith Road renovations as well as bus purchases.

Meanwhile, rate increases in the retirement system drove up costs in benefits, and increased participation meant health insurance costs were higher.

The presentation suggested reducing the number of covered employees in order to reduce benefit costs. Otherwise, there was little that could be done; many of this office’s costs are under state control.

Professional development

Costs for professional development remained constant from 2011-12 to 2012-13. Financial support for these activities come from a range of funding sources, including Title I and Title IIA, Race to the Top, School Improvement Grants and AFT and NYSUT grants. Savings, however, can be realized by taking advantage of training before and after school so that substitute teachers don’t have to be utilized.

Special education

A number of budgets fall under the heading of “special education.” There is the general Special Education budget, psychological services and social work. The latter two fall under the heading of the former.

In the psychological services budget, salaries were reduced by 3.6 percent, and the social work budget remained steady from last year to this one.

Though there were some fluctuations in the general special education budget, major savings came through a 95.2 percent reduction in equipment costs when special education was moved under the “Health and Safety” heading, allowing for increased flexibility. Thus the overall special education budget only increased by 0.6 percent.

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