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Cazenovia school district budget deficit projections changing

— The Cazenovia Central School District’s projected budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year is not as large as was previously expected, thanks to some teacher retirements and savings in utilities costs.

Initial budget figures showed a gap of $650,000 that the district would need to somehow fill, and administrators have been considering alternatives to make up the amount. Recently tabulated savings in utilities costs, as well as three newly-announced staff retirements have lessened the budget gap to $460,000, Superintendent Bob Dubik told the board of education at its Feb. 25 meeting.

Dubik, reporting for assistant superintendent for finance William Furling who was absent, said the district also is waiting to hear more information about state school funding decisions, as well as the impact of an upcoming district bond refinancing, to get a better idea of further budget implications.

The board of education will hold a public budget forum on Monday, March 4, at which these issues will be discussed, and hopes it will receive more information from the state that day.

“The $460,000 is good news … and we’ll hope to continue to close that,” Dubik said.

Related to the district’s budget issues, Dubik told the board the impact of the new school lunch menu mandates from the federal government, which made new requirements on what schools may or may not serve students for lunch, is that the Cazenovia School District currently has fallen from a surplus of funds to about a $25,000 deficit in its lunch program since September. This impact is due to the higher cost of food the district is federally required to provide and a large decrease in the number of students buying lunch, because the new menu is not popular, Dubik said.

“So from a small surplus we’re now $20,000 to $30,000 in the hole — that could be a $50,000 swing,” said Pat Vogl, head of the board’s finance committee.

“We have never lost money on our lunch program before this,” Dubik said. He said that the district could consider going to a private provider for its lunch program, but that could push the price of lunches for students up to four or five dollars per meal.

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