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March 30, 2011

 

City school district delays budget meeting

By SCOTT CONROE
Staff Reporter
sconroe@cortlandstandard.net

The weekend’s state budget agreement, with the promise of state aid being partially restored, caused the city Board of Education to cancel its special meeting Tuesday and put off further budget discussion until next week.
Superintendent of Schools Larry Spring said he and the board thought there was no point in talking about possible staffing or program cuts that might not happen.
“We don’t want to make any assumptions,” Spring said.
He said that if the board projected possible staff cuts or program cuts, it would be presenting either cuts that would be false or aid projections that would be guesses.
Spring hoped to have new state aid estimates this morning.
The board instead will discuss possible cuts at a special meeting next Tuesday.
“By then, we’ll know the remaining pieces of the budget,” he said.
Spring also said that all three of the Cortland city school district’s employee bargaining units have at least discussed going without pay raises next year, to save the district money and possibly save jobs.
The Cortland United Teachers contract ended last June and the teachers have been negotiating for a new contract since then.
The administrators’ bargaining unit and CSEA employees have contracts in place.
“I met with all three bargaining units last week and the zero pay raise was discussed,” Spring said. “Some folks said it would save jobs, others said the district should use its reserves more, others asked why schools are taking it on the chin.”
Lori Megivern, Cortland United Teachers president, said she has twice told Spring that teachers are not interested in a zero pay raise when Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pushed for districts to use their reserves instead of cutting positions.
“The governor does not want to freeze teachers’ pay or cut teachers’ jobs,” Megivern said. “New York state does not want teachers only to bail them out of the budget crisis. They don’t want other professions to do that either. It’s only school administrators who are saying we should accept zero pay raises.”
Cuomo cut $1.5 billion from public schools in his February budget proposal.
The state Legislature’s leaders and Cuomo agreed Sunday to restore about $270 million of that.
Spring said that could mean $400,000 in additional aid for the Cortland district, based on conversations he had this week with state Sen. Jim Seward (R-Milford).
The district would lose $2.6 million in aid under Cuomo’s original proposal.
District administrators have already met with staff whose jobs might be affected by cuts, through elimination or reassignment.
The Cortland High School music booster club had planned to speak at Tuesday’s special meeting about the value of music and other arts programs.

 

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