C-R firms up budget plans


By Jim Poole

Cobleskill-Richmondville's budget picture is looking better than it has in years.
After getting more aid than they expected in the state budget, C-R officials are looking to restore staff and programs that were slashed in earlier years.
"We haven't been able to do that in a long time," school board President Bruce Tryon said at Monday night's meeting.
In putting the budget together in March, C-R was planning for a $900,000 increase in state aid.
Instead, the district will be receiving an increase of nearly $1.2 million for its 2015-16 budget.
"We're grateful to the legislature," Superintendent Carl Mummenthey said. "This is a positive shift for us.
He said C-R has about $195,000 to devote towards restoring past cuts.
Although officials have made no decisions on what to restore, they've complied a list proposed by staffers.
Among those possibilities are:
•A counselor, special ed teacher, teaching assistant and part-time art teacher at the elementary level.
•A math teacher and reduction of class sizes in middle school.
•A computer/tech instructor for the elementary and middle schools.
•More distance learning, a tutor and a special ed aide in the high school.
•A human resources coordinator that would serve the entire district.
C-R officials will prioritize the list and decided which items to include in the upcoming budget.
Restoration will take more than one year, Mr. Mummenthey emphasized, adding that it will take at least several years--and that assumes the state continues to give back aid it's withheld from schools in the past.
"Restoration will be a slow process and over multiple years," Mr. Mummenthey said.
Besides allowing C-R to restore some items, the increase in aid also means the district won't be taking as much money from savings, as it did in past years.
"We're greatly reducing our dependence on fund balance," Mr. Mummenthey said. "That had been hit very hard."
The draft budget stands at $38.2 million, including a spending increase of 1.67 percent.
It also proposes a levy increase of 1.99 percent or less, which will be on or under C-R's tax-levy cap.
"This will be a pro-taxpayer, pro-student budget," Mr. Mummenthey said.
The school board expects to adopt the budget at its April 27 meeting.