School board increases budget, prevents teacher layoff

Strong public support for high school social studies teacher saves job

— The Cazenovia Board of Education increased this year’s budget by nearly $70,000 last night, specifically to prevent the proposed layoff of a popular high school social studies teacher who for months has had a multitude of public support urging the board to save her job. The money to pay for her retention will come out of the district’s fund balance reserve account and will not necessitate an increase in the proposed tax rate or an overriding of the state tax levy cap.

While teacher Mary Kate Lonergan saw her job saved at the board’s April 22 meeting, four other district positions were eliminated from the budget, as were two assistant coaches for boys lacrosse, two modified basketball teams and the JV girls softball team.

After more than an hour of discussion, including strong disagreements between members about funding the social studies teacher position, the board approved by a vote of 4-2 its preliminary budget of $26,419,662, which includes a 4.93 percent tax levy increase. Board members Leigh Baldwin and Patrick Vogl voted against the budget in opposition to the addition of the $68,000 for Lonergan’s position.

Both Baldwin and Vogl strongly opposed the budget change, which was made as an amendment to the originally-presented budget of $26,351,662, saying that by taking money from the district’s reserve accounts — which will eventually run dry — the board was only “kicking the can down the road” in terms of facing fiscal insolvency.

“I do not think this is fiscally responsible,” Baldwin said, stating that the board has used anywhere from $233,000 to $1.3 million from the fund balance account each year for the past four years. “How long until we implode? If this was a business we couldn’t do that.”

After the meeting ended, Lonergan accepted congratulations from a number of supporters.

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