March 2, 2011


Homer facing school program, staff cuts

Administrators working out details, but say $2.3 million aid loss leaves no choice

Staff Reporter

HOMER — School district officials continued to present pieces of the 2011-12 school budget during a budget work session Tuesday, but potential position cuts and tax increases are still being decided.
The district is facing a $2.3 million reduction in state aid, a 13.9 percent cut.
The district’s solutions to dealing with budget challenges — whether through program and position cuts or tax increases — are still being worked out, said Superintendent of Schools Nancy Ruscio. The details could come next week during the Board of Education meeting and the final budget work session on March 15.
“We will have to cut. How far we cut, what do we ask of our taxpayers, are all things we continue to discuss as this process unfolds,” Ruscio said at the end of the meeting.
Michael Delair, director of business and finance, estimated the school’s preliminary 2011-12 budget to be $40,114,545, but the budget will continue to be revised in the next few weeks, Ruscio said.
The current year’s budget is $38,286,495.
“We are going to have to make position cuts,” Ruscio said. “How many and to what extent, we are still working on that.”
The contingency budget, or the school budget that would be used if the proposed budget and a revised budget are voted down, would be $38,885,299.
Preliminary budgets for transportation, operation and maintenance, co-curricular activities, and administrative and general support were also presented during the workshop.
The individual budgets are a small portion of the overall budget.
The co-curricular budget would increase $6,700 from $107,900 to $114,600. The budget includes supplies, fees, and other costs for the various school clubs and music and drama groups. That part of the budget is down from its 2009-10 total of $145,270.
The budget for operations and management would go from $1,593,060 to $1,700,360. Most of the $107,300 increases would come from the amount budgeted for BOCES services.
The increase includes the costs of participating in a BOCES Energy Coser, a program that evaluates energy use throughout the district and provides guidance on conserving energy and reducing costs.
The transportation budget would decrease $825 from last year, from $623,190 to $622,365.
The overall administration and general support budget would increase from $2,517,820 to $2,703,735. The increases would include the district’s move to a central business office through BOCES and participation in an energy consortium.
Issues still to be resolved include the revenue needed to support the budget increases and how much the school will need to allocate to support school programs, Delair said during the meeting.
Ruscio implored people to advocate for schools by calling local legislators, senators and other political officials. She said the cuts in aid could directly affect children statewide.
She said the state aid cuts, coupled with the lack of state mandate relief, make it difficult to maintain programs and find efficiencies.



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