Spotlight News: march 3, 2011

S-G Super’s budget reveals possible $1.5 million cut

 

John Purcell, 03/03/11

Field trips and summer school face elimination, along with staff reductions

Scotia-Glenville Central School District officials are hoping to maintain programs for students while making deep fiscal cuts, with Superintendent Susan Swartz’s draft budget for the 2011-12 showing reductions of more than $1.5 million.

Swartz’s budget, presented to the Scotia-Glenville Board of Education on Monday, Feb. 28, has three phases of reductions totaling $1.52 million in cuts. The carry-forward budget from the current school year totaled $47.9 million and represented an estimated tax increase of 7.7 percent. State aid for the district would also be declining by almost $1.4 million or 8 percent compared to the current year. Also included in cuts is a reduction of 5.3 full-time equivalent staff members, which could be a mixture of part-time and full-time employees to reach an estimated savings of $238,342.

“I will not bring you anything that I feel really good about,” said Swartz. “Many of these things you have seen before. We go back to the same things … folks who attended our forums last year and folks responded to our exit surveys were pretty clear about what they saw and what they like about Scotia-Glenville.”

To help reduce the burden on taxpayers, a total of $500,000 will be used from the fund balance of the district. Additionally, phase one reductions include $29,000 in health insurance savings as collective bargaining groups move from a CDPHP HMO plan to an EPO plan. Reductions in building and grounds and transportation will also total $120,000, with details to be presented at the next board meeting.

There will also be the addition of two full-time teachers, going to Lincoln and Sacandaga elementary schools. Last year there were two smaller fourth grades, so for the current school year, they were combined to make a single fifth grade. These two additions would total $135,034.

“We have two healthy, well at the guidelines, fourth grades that will now become fifth grades next year,” said Swartz. “Although you know this will not be my recommendation, as fourth graders, to move them to another school to less populated fifth-grade sections; we don’t have less populated fifth-grade sections.”

Two retiring elementary school principals will also be replaced by two current full-time employees in the district, which Swartz estimates will save $250,000 since the administrative staff members former positions wouldn’t be replaced.

Students probably won’t be leaving their classrooms during the school day either for field trips, because Swartz is proposing eliminating all field trips for a savings of $15,000.

“We are going to need to make better use of our technology … perhaps to provide more virtual type field trips. It will never replace getting kids out to the real people, the real places and the real things,” said Swartz.

Students will also have to make sure they study too because summer school is on the chopping block since it isn’t mandated. That move would total $35,745 in savings. One group of students Swartz is worried about with the option of summer school being eliminated is high school seniors.

“The kids I worry about most are seniors,” said Swartz. “What can we do so that seniors do not have to return for a fifth year of part of a fifth year, because my experience has been quite frankly that they won’t. Kids will not come back to finish.”

The district should possibly look at enrolling seniors in another school’s summer program, she said, but if a student has “dug that hole to deep” they might need to return for another semester or year. She said there might be a way to step up and offer some summer school classes, but currently she isn’t recommending the option. Some other considerations are to offer online credit for failed courses or establishing a type of independent study.

While the details of staff reductions isn’t going to be discussed until the next board meeting on Monday, March 7, Swartz said it would affect programs in the district.

“Staffing reductions will impact across the levels and they are programmatic in nature,” said Swartz.

Sports also weren’t immune to cuts as she proposed eliminating modified girls and boys tennis and girls and boys lacrosse. Previously she has went after swimming teams and golf, but said she learned he lessen after outcries from members of the teams and parents.

Board member Benjamin Conlon restated he wanted to stick with his previous intention on keeping the budget at a 2 percent or below tax increase. Although he did express to keep the Young Scholars program at the sixth-grade level, because of the advance programming offered. Even with the proposed elimination the Scotia Scholars program would still be offered.

In addition to Conlon wanting to see more possible cuts, board member John Yagielski also said he would look to see what additional cuts would entail.

“I would be interested in what phase four looks like,” said Yagielski. “It would be nice to see what would come next … maybe collectively the feedback would be those are better choices than some of the things that are here.”

He also shared he’s been getting calls since January about the budget and what people would like see remain offered or cries to reduce the budget.

 

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