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Skaneateles CSD budget estimated to be $223,900 short

The Skaneateles School District’s current estimates have it short of breaking even for its 2014-15 operating budget, Interim Superintendent of Schools Judy Pastel said at a March 4 school board work session.

The district may need to find another $223,918 in order to balance its budget and remain within the tax cap.

The budget gap could end up being smaller once the district has final estimates for its revenues for the 2014-15 school year, Pastel said. It is still possible that the district gets increased state aid if the state legislators act on recent appeals to restore school funding that has been reduced under its Gap Elimination Adjustment policy.

If the budget remains short, the district will have to balance it either by cutting something, using possible leftover funds from the current fiscal year or by raising taxes.

However, the district’s ability to cover the difference with taxes is limited by the state-imposed tax cap, which is determined by an economic growth factor. The cap for the district this year will be 1.64 percent, meaning the district’s tax levy won’t be allowed to exceed $23,371,984. The board does have the option to levy more than the cap, though it would then need to get a supermajority approval (60 percent) from the public on the May 20 vote.

The district previously announced that it would not have to lay off any full time staff members, though it will be able to shrink its staff through attrition, which means some retiring teachers may not be replaced. Pastel also said that there are some part-time teachers who may not be brought back. Though it does save money, shrinking the teaching staff has been driven only by declining enrollment thus far, she said.

One area Pastel identified as needing improvement is the school lunch program. Next year’s budget will require $75,000 of reserve funds to cover the deficit of the lunch program.

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