Apr 04, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
The West Genesee school board voted Wednesday night to adopt a $68,326,530 budget for 2011-12 that includes a tax rate increase of 4.8 percent, 53 employee lay-offs, and cuts to programming in all areas.
“I don’t feel good about it, but I feel that it was the right thing to do considering the economic conditions that are out there,” said West Genesee Superintendent Chris Brown.
Two days later, following, news that the state Legislature would restore substantial state aid to schools, the district chose to use incoming funds to bring the tax levy increase down to 3.8 percent.
“The little that will remain will go into our reserves to begin to build our budget for next year,” Brown said. The budget as it was adopted Wednesday used $2.3 million of its $4.4 million in available reserves.
This district will not bring any employees back as a result of the restored aid. Brown said that from listening to Gov. Cuomo speak, he expects future budgets to pose challenges for West Genesee.
“He’s still very much after the [2 percent] tax cap,” Brown said, adding: “I think if you bring something back, you’re just going to end up cutting it again next year. We just need respond to the conditions out there, take a leadership role and make do with what we have.”
The 2011-12 spending plan is about $1.6 million less than the current year’s $69,938,455 budget. The district’s proposal includes 53 employee lay-offs for next year and deep cuts to programming in order to close a gap originally estimated at $5.63 million.
“I don’t feel good about it, but I feel that it was the right thing to do considering the economic conditions that are out there,” Brown said.
In February, employees district-wide voted to freeze their salary for the coming fiscal year, which saved $900,000 and well over 100 positions, Brown said.
“The wage freeze was a true showing of trust and support in our school community and I think the cuts that we had to make, while unfortunate, I think spread pretty evenly through every part of our organization,” he said.
What’s up for elimination
The budget calls for the elimination of three administrators – an assistant high school principal, an assistant principal intern at the high school and the athletic director.
Camillus Middle School assistant principal Mike Burns will take over the duties of athletic director for Anthony Pascale when he retires June 3. He will continue to serve as assistant principal. This change goes toward about $300,000 in savings from athletic programs. Modified sports teams will be combined, assistant coach positions will be reduced and game schedules will be shortened.
About $450,000 was saved by reducing fine arts programs. The adopted budget proposed cutting the third-grade string program, fourth-grade band and one year of middle-school art. Middle school students in band, orchestra and chorus will be removed from general music classes and high school art electives will be cut if there is a shortage of students enrolled or staffing is needed in other areas.
$100,000 was saved by reducing extra-curricular activities; $60,000 was saved by closing the teaching center. $200,000 was taken from the district’s technology budget, $100,000 from utility expenses, and overtime costs were reduced by $15,000.
Aides and hallway assistants will be reduced, and high school electives will need at least 15 students or they will be removed. There will also be fewer issues of the school newsletter next year.
West Genesee, which now has 400 teachers, will have 21 less teachers next year. 8 1/2 of these lay-offs are due to declining enrollment or changes to programming, Brown said.
29 clerical staff, teacher aides and teacher assistants will be eliminated. In addition, the superintendent said he will work without a secretary.
Residents will have a chance to respond to the budget during a public hearing at 7 p.m. May 4 at the West Genesee High School library, 5201 W. Genesee St., Camillus. The budget vote is set for 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. May 17 in the high school auditorium.