SCS looking at $440,000 in cuts--to start


By David Avitabile

Schoharie Central School is looking at more than $440,000 in spending cuts for the proposed 2011-12 budget.
And even more cuts could be in the offing.
Despite the recommended cuts, the tax levy would still rise by more than 9.1 percent, mostly because of a huge decrease in state aid and an increase in spending for health insurance and retirement.
More changes are expected to be recommended at next Wednesday’s school board meeting.
Superintendent Brian Sherman said the $20.2 million tentative budget as currently proposed will not be the final one.
“This is not what we’re going to be taking to the public. Bear with us.”
The current plan is not being proposed as the final budget, he said. “Not even close.”
More cuts will be made, Mr. Sherman said, and there will be more impacts because of teacher retirements.
Board members last week had question for Mr. Sherman and business administrator Bob Bonaker but no cuts were approved.
Among the recommended cuts were:
• A reduction in non-aided equipment, $30,319.
• Reduction in field trips, $4,000.
This could affect the transportation of the school bands by bus to local parades, Mr. Sherman said.
• Reduction in the subsidy for the food service program by $16,000.
• A re-organization of the administration which will result in a lay off of one teacher.
The plan would move high school assistant Principal Steve Hoard back into the classroom as a social studies teacher. Athletic Director Jamie Rockhill would then become both AD and assistant principal and a health teacher would pick up two physical education classes that Mr. Rockhill taught. There may be some increase in class sizes, Mr. Sherman said.
• Reduction in legal fees, $12,000.
• Elimination of JV sports, $26,192.
Getting rid of JV sports would have the least impact on students and the sports program, officials said. The old students in JV could move up to the varsity while most of the younger players could move down to modified.
Some districts are meeting to possibly combine JV teams, Mr. Sherman said.
The JV program could be funded by outside sources if funds are raised.
• Elimination of the following advisorships: freshman class, sophomore class, Builders Club, FCCLA, a half-time musical assistant, student government, Odyssey of the Mind, after-school tutors and cheerleaders, $11,065.
• Moving an elementary school remedial teacher back into the classroom which would result in one teacher lay-off, $52,387.
• Changes in the transportation and bus route assignments because of anticipated retirements, $43,680.
• Change in operations and maintenance because of an anticipated retirement, $38,186.
• Reducing five certified but non-mandated positions from full-time to half time, $127,535.
The five would be: secondary art, physical education, secondary technology, elementary library/media, and secondary guidance.
• Reduction of central services and supply lines, $27,778.
SCS officials could know about possible state aid soon which could offer some relief though Mr. Sherman said any increase would be small.
Federal Jobs Act funds in the amount of $490,000 will be used to save seven non-mandated teaching positions, at least for this year.
Those positions are: agriculture, business education, music and kindergarten, four positions.
These funds, though, are one-time only, officials said.
The district could go back to half-day kindergarten but that is not being considered at this point.
“We’re hoping we don’t have to go in that direction,” he said.
SCS officials are battling a possible state aid cut of $1.06 million and increases of about $233,000 in health insurance, $142,000 in the employees’ retirement system and $111,000 in the teachers’ retirement system.
If the district has to go to a contingency budget, which was the case this year, another $30,780 would have to be cut from the budget. The tax levy hike from that budget could be 8.4 percent.
In addition to future meetings, the district is awaiting word on more teacher retirements, which could save positions and money.
The current deadline for notification for retirements is March 15 but that can be changed by the board and union, as it was last year.
Board members are expected to adopt the 2011-12 budget on April 6 with the public vote scheduled for May 17.