Apr 02, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The Cazenovia school district’s current budget outlook for the 2014-15 school year is “up in the air” until the state legislature finalizes the state budget; at the moment, however, the district’s preliminary budget calls for the elimination of six, possibly seven, district employees, including three support staff and three to four teaching positions.
These cuts are based on the assumption that the state legislature will increase state aid funding to the district by about $450,000, which was received last year. If that funding does not come through, however, even more budget cuts will be necessary.
This was part of the budget update given at the Cazenovia Board of Education’s March 24 regular meeting.
“We don’t know what the state legislature will do. They’re talking about eliminating the [Gap Elimination Adjustment] over three years,” said Assistant Superintendent Bill Furlong. “Our April 14 meeting is where we’ll set our budget.”
The current budget — which is only the preliminary working draft — is increasing $180,000, or .23 percent, over last year, with the maximum 1.135 percent tax levy limit included, Furlong said. The budget has seen a 30 percent increase in special education costs during the past two years — which has simultaneously increased transportation costs for bussing special education students — and health care costs has increased 5 percent this year, 3 percent of which is caused by the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act, Furlong said.
For the 2014-15 year, there have been, so far, five retirements in the district, including the director of special education and the high school principal, and all of them are important positions that need to be refilled to maintain the district’s academic standards, said Superintendent Bob Dubik. He said the retirements will save the district some money on salary “breakage,” meaning the difference between the retiring teachers’ salaries and the typically smaller salary that will be paid to the new hires who do not have as much experience.
Board member Jan Woodworth, a member of the board’s personnel committee, said the committee’s recommendations for the potential personnel cuts include one mechanic, two cleaners, one first grade position, one third grade position, one family consumer science position in the high school and possibly one kindergarten position.
The anticipated elementary position cuts are all based on projected reductions in enrollment that will cause the elimination of one section in each of the grades, Dubik said. He said the first grade class size is expected to drop from 102 students this year to 89 students next year; while third grade is expected to drop from 105 students this year to 94 next year. Eliminating sections does not necessarily mean teachers in those specific grades will be released, but rather the reduction in teaching staff will be done by seniority, Dubik said.
All the recommended personnel cuts, except the kindergarten possibility, are included in the preliminary budget numbers, Furlong said.
“This is a living document; it continues to move on almost a daily basis,” Furlong said. “If we don’t get the $450,000 we anticipate [from the state legislature] we’ll have to change our estimates and maybe cut more.”
In response to a question from Member Lisa Lounsbury, board President Pat Vogl said the board is currently not planning to seek higher tax revenue to fill the budget gap by asking residents to approve a tax levy that exceeds the state-mandated tax cap. To exceed the cap, a district budget must receive a majority of more than 60 percent of voters; failure to achieve that 60 percent would force a re-vote. Districts that fail to win voter approval for their proposed budgets after two tries must freeze their property tax levies.
Also at the meeting, the board:
—Scheduled a budget work session for 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 7, in the district meeting room.
—Accepted the resignation of high school Principal Eric Schnabl, who has been hired as superintendent of Sherburne-Earleville Central School District. Schnabl will remain in Cazenovia until the end of the current school year. “We’d like to thank Eric for his years of dedicated service here … and we wish you the best of luck in your new job come July 1,” said BOE President Pat Vogl.
—Awarded the construction bid for the emergency waterline project to Cunningham Excavation for $63,132. Cunningham’s was the lowest of the three buds received for the project. The water main break, located under the small employee parking lot adjacent to Emory Avenue, is estimated to be leaking up to 30,000 gallons a day, most of which is running into the village sewer system. Since the break is on school property the district is responsible for the repair and the cost. The work is expected to be completed during spring break in April, said Furlong.
—Approved a new seventh through ninth grade modified girls softball coach at a salary rate of $3,602. The money to fund the salary was raised by supporters of the softball program, who asked the board in February for a second modified team due to the large number of players coming up this year. The board refused to add the team because it was not in the current budget but said that if supporters raised the funds they would allow it.
—Ratified contract agreements with the Cazenovia Administrators’ and Supervisors’ Association and with the Cazenovia Support Staff Union. Both contracts call for a 2 percent annual increase during the coverage period from June 2014 to June 2016. Both of the groups’ current labor contracts expire June 30.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.