You’re not losing any money now, but you will be later.
That was the message that New York State schools received from Gov. David Paterson after his proposed mid-year education cuts were voted down in the legislature recently, re-iterating that there would be far less money to go around for the 2009-10 school year.
“What we are looking at is a cut in funding,” said Whitehall Central School superintendent James Watson. “We are in the process of doing a preliminary assessment of potential cuts that we may need to make in order to protect the integrity of the instructional program while reacting to any proposed reductions in state aid.”
Watson said that while the school is looking into the areas where they mat be able to cut spending, they are not into a full budget process yet.
“We are really kind of waiting until the Governor comes out with his figures on the 16th,” said Watson. “We are not aggressively moving ahead until then.”
Watson said that the first place to look for cuts in the budget is where the biggest amount of the money is spent.
“Obviously, the biggest dollars are in personnel,” said Watson. “So we will be looking at a number of areas both instructional and non-instructional that can be reduced to compensate for the loss of state aid. Generally, we are looking at non-specific instructional areas.”
Watson added that the best way to reduce staffing would be through retirements.
“The cleanest was is through retirement where we would look at not replacing the position,” said Watson.
Along with staffing, Watson also said that the school will look at other areas where they could curb spending.
“In our long range planning, we might look at cutting back from buying two new busses to buying one,” said Watson. “We are also looking at a municipal cooperative agreement with Onondaga- Cayuga-Madison BOCES for energy savings, which could reduce the kilowatt hour charge from 14-cents to 10-cents.”
Along with the budgeting process, the school received over 30 applications for the position of business officer, which was resigned by Cynthia Turcotte effective Dec. 30.
“We had 11 preliminary interviews and narrowed it down to three finalists,” said Watson. “We will introduce the new business manager at the next board meeting on Dec. 15.”