At the March 12 Cazenovia Central School District Board of Education meeting, board members and administrators discussed the preliminary 2012-13 budget with more than 40 community members and educators.
This year the district is aiming to close a $412,700 gap within its proposed $25,937,952 budget. Rising costs and decreased state aid has caused a $76,297 increase from the 2011-12 budget. The board, hoping to adhere to the 1.6 percent tax levy limit, lamented to the public that there may be changes to academic programming and number of teaching positions at Cazenovia High School.
“I think this is the first year we’re really going to have to cut something,” said BOE President Fritz Koennecke.
“Certainly everybody is aware of the financial constraints that the state is facing, and with that … the schools have an impact. A reduction in state aid … adds a different dimension to this year’s budget,” said Superintendent Bob Dubik. “Certainly the administration is sensitive on the impact that it could have on the excellent education programs that everybody is accustomed to. No one wants to make cuts, no one wants any reductions. But with limited resources, we don’t have much choice.”
Assistant Superintendent Bill Furlong presented the preliminary budget for those in attendance, outlining 2 percent increases for both health insurance premiums and teacher salaries, the absence of additional state aid and the district’s same amount of appropriated reserve funds as last year: $1.3 million.
The board is tentatively planning on dropping 3.5 teaching positions due to declining enrollment, which will provide $193,000 in savings, members said. Two retirements at this school year’s end will count toward the 3.5 positions, and some currently-employed educators will be moved to different grades.
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Donna Fountain was recently offered the position of superintendent at the Hannibal School District. By not refilling her position, the district will save upwards of $60,000. Instead, board members said a part-time BOCES curriculum coordinator will help with routine matters.
The support staff will be reduced by 1.5 positions, saving $39,000; athletic programs will see a $22,000 decrease; and reductions at the administrative level will save the district $60,000.
Dubik listed a number of areas he and the board may consider for additional cuts, including the girls swimming program, a high school social studies position, a bus driver, a clerical position, a teaching-assistant position, weight room advisors, late-bus routes, the seventh- and eighth-grade boys and girls basketball programs, computer technology and broadcasting programs as well as agricultural programming.
“We’ve done too good of a job with programming,” Dubik said. “The kids have too much to choose from.”
Numerous residents, parents, instructors and students spoke in favor of academic programs during the public communications. Cazenovia High School senior Molly Woodworth, an agriculture student and member of the Future Farmers of America, asked board members to consider cuts to academic programming as an absolute worst-case-scenario.
“As a voting member of the community and a student, I am devoted to ‘a tradition of excellence and equity,’ as our school motto states. It saddens me that we are looking at cutting the [agriculture] program. It saddens me in general that we’re looking at cuts to any academic programs at all,” Woodworth said. “I would like to see as few academic changes for my younger brother and all the other students as possible … While I agree that sports are important for having well rounded students, I feel that academics should be the last thing thrown on the chopping block.
The Cazenovia BOE rescheduled its March 19 meeting to 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 2, in the large group instruction room at the high school. Board members will continue discussion on the budget as they move toward finalizing details. The public is encouraged to attend.
The 2012-13 budget will be finalized by board members in April, and voted on by the community May 15.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.