February 15, 2012


Homer targets $280K in school budget cuts

Staff Reporter

HOMER — During a budget work session Tuesday night, the Board of Education looked at cutting over $280,000 from the budgets of individual schools and the district’s special education program.
Superintendent of Schools Nancy Ruscio said the cuts, which have not been approved yet, were are result of a new budgeting process the district is using.
“We’re trying to get a hand on expenses,” she said.
The new budget numbers are based on the district’s five schools’ actual expenses from the 2010-11 school year, plus 2 percent, rather than a per-pupil amount.
Some additional savings will come from a centralized supply system in each school as well as preordering of supplies using funds from this year.
The proposed cuts are: $46,559 from Homer High School, $12,204 from the Junior High School, $35,548 from the Intermediate School, $24,282 from Homer Elementary School and $9,095 from Hartnett Elementary School.
Savings from the special education program will total $154,540.
The district it is facing a $600,000 budget gap next year.
In other business, the board also approved four contracts.
The district entered a 16-month contract to share the position of Director of Transportation with Cortland Enlarged School District. The contract takes effect March and will end June 30, 2013.
Homer’s director, Chuck Paquette, will serve as director for both districts. Officially he is a Homer employee, though any possibly disciplinary action will require consultation from both boards of education, Ruscio told the board.
“This is a cost-saving measure for both districts and it will save Homer around $65,000 a year,” she said. “There will be no immediate changes to routes or pick ups.”
Cortland’s director of transportation, Scott Gablenz, is retiring. Cortland Superintendent of Schools Larry Spring said the city board will vote on the agreement at its Feb. 28 meeting.
“Between our two districts we have about 5,000 students and four full-time personnel, and we found that other districts with 5,000 students did not have four people,” Spring said this morning. “We decided to look at cost savings. We might be able to share bus routes, for example.”
The other three contracts are all for special education services. The district contracted with Sylvan Learning Center, and Murray Learning Services. All three contracts began unofficially last month. Academia’s contract ends June 24, Murray’s contract ends June 30 and Sylvan’s contract ends Aug. 31.
The contracts authorize up to $1,138 in tutuoring per student.
The district must provide the services because last year it was on a federal list of schools that performed less than adequate on several test scores and other measures.
Funding for the services comes from the federal government through Title I.
The district is required by state law to sign a contract with any special education service provider that responds to a request for proposals, Ruscio said.
“If a parent wants to send their child all the way to Albany for special education services, we have to sign with them,” she said.
Staff Reporter Scott Conroe contributed to this report.


To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe