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March 4, 2010

 

Homer faces deep school cuts

School district considers 40 teacher layoffs to plug $3 million gap

SchoolBob Ellis/staff photographer
Homer Elementary School students walk to their buses at the end of their school day on Wednesday.

By J.D. THRASHER
Staff Reporter
jthrasher@cortlandstandardnews.net

HOMER — The Homer school district is proposing cutting up to 40 teachers and eliminating programs to close a $3.3 million budget gap that is largely the result of proposed state cuts.
The gap between what the Homer school district plans to spend, and what it expects in revenue is $3.3 million. The school board has to decide on ways to close the gap, by either increasing funding or by decreasing spending.
During a budget workshop, Tuesday night, the Homer school district administrative team, composed of principals, assistant principals, directors and the Homer superintendent of schools, released a proposed budget for 2010-11 with a $3.3 million deficit.
The $3.3 million on the proposed budget has to be cut to guarantee no tax increase, compared with the 2009-10 school budget.
Superintendent of Schools Doug Larison said the Homer Board of Education was given a list of $3.8 million in possible expenditure reductions. From that list, $3.3 million could be cut to close the budget gap.
The 2009-10 budget was $39,091,485; the budget for 2010-11 is proposed to be $40,037,620, a 2.4 percent increase. Reductions would be made to the current $40 million proposal.
Homer receives virtually all of its funding from state aid and local property taxes. Larison said the funding is about 50 percent from each source. However, the state aid is expected to be lower than expected.
The state aid in 2009-10 given to the district was $22,173,208. The anticipated state aid for the district is $19,945,854 under a proposal by Gov. David Paterson that is the starting point for state budget negotiations with the Legislature. The Paterson plan calls for about a 10 percent decrease in state funding for Homer schools.
“The reality is that the governor’s proposal reduced our state aid by $2.4 million,” Larison said.
The Board of Education plans to vote in mid-April on an adopted budget, but until then, it is reviewing options to close the gap.
“We’re going across the board and looking at everything,” said David Quinlan, a school board member.
That would largely come from cutting staff salaries. Other cuts will come from reducing other expenditures, such as certain athletics programs and limiting class options for students.
“In the past, when a student wanted to take a specific course at the high school (and it was closed), our typical response is to open a second section. Now, students have to make a choice between ‘class A’ and ‘class B,’ ” said Larison.
The state budget, which includes state aid to school districts, is due by April 1. Quinlan said the state has sent letters to the state asking it to explain the formula that determined the aid reduction to Homer schools.
“No one knows how this is going to shake out (before the state Legislature votes),” Quinlan said.

 

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