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School district calls for tax increase, staffing cuts in 2013-14 budget

— Furlong reviewed for the public audience the numbers and events that led the district to its current budget status, which were due primarily to $5.6 million loss in state aid over the past four years, a 40 percent increase in employee retirement costs and a continuation of declining enrollment district-wide. The “significant” enrollment decrease, specifically, is what has driven the decision for the proposed staffing cuts, Furlong and Dubik said.

Current district numbers show enrollment has declined from 1,817 to 1,540 total students in Cazenovia during the past 10 years, which has been accompanied by a teacher reduction from 149 to 138 since 2007. The smaller elementary school class sizes beginning in about 2002 have now reached the high school level, which has prompted this year’s proposal to eliminate positions in the middle and high schools, Furlong said.

The proposed staff cuts include one cleaner position, one fifth grade position, one sixth grade position, one high school social studies position and one high school guidance counselor position. Four of these five cuts will be through attrition, but the one high school social studies teacher position will be a layoff. These cuts will save the district $307,000, Furlong said.

This still leaves a $134,000 shortfall, however, and if the state does not restore some of its eliminated aid in its upcoming budget — which as of press time had not been released — then the district will have to look at cutting two additional staff positions: one bus mechanic and one Family and Consumer Services/food teaching position, Furlong said.

The district’s “guiding principle” when considering budget reductions has been to keep or enhance academic and extracurricular programs that “area source of pride and set us apart from other school districts,” Furlong said. To that end, the district has been reducing for the past four years as many unnecessary or extraneous budget items as possible without reducing core staffing or programs, he said.

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