Board’s goal is zero percent tax increase

 

Board considers layoffs to meet 0 percent goal

The Granville Board of Education heard Monday night the only way to get to its tax rate goal for the 2010-2011budget is to lay off four school staff personnel and spend up to $500,000 of its fund balance.

During discussion of the final sections of the school’s budget, business manager Cathy Somich told board members the district must drop two teaching and two non-instructional staff members if they wish to meet the goal of putting a zero percent tax increase budget before the voters in May.

“To reach the board’s goal of a zero percent tax levy increase we’re going t have to look at some staffing cuts,” Somich said. Somich said the district would also be looking at “judicious use” of fund balance as well to negate any increased impact to the taxpayers.  

Board members asked to see enrollment numbers to help them determine where the cuts could be made.

“We’re looking at all of the numbers so that we can make a good strategic decision and where they best fit to have the least effect on the district’s programs,” Superintendent Mark Bessen said. 

Bessen said the move for layoffs is part of shooting for a zero percent tax increase budget during tough economic times when the community is already financially hard pressed.

“We don’t want to do it but we have to it is the responsible thing to do; it’s the responsible thing for this community during these tough economic times,” Bessen said. Asked if there was any way to avoid layoffs, Bessen said not hiring replacements for retiring personnel could offset the expense of the four positions.

“That would be the dream,” he said. At the time it was not known how many retirement notices the district would receive, making planning for any layoffs difficult. Some cuts will happen but teachers laid off could come back if the retirements are in the correct tenure area, Bessen said

Bessen said the district must notify anyone to be laid off by April 1 while retirees do not face the same deadline.

The teachers’ contract does offer incentives for retirement to some teachers, but the deadline for notifying the district is also April 1, too late to help officials plan.

Somich said the district could end up using as much as $500,000 of the district’s approximately $1.8 million fund balance to eliminate a tax increase for this budget; something that would also vary depending on the number of retirements the district sees. Presenting the inter-scholastic sports portion of the budget co-athletic directors Mike Macura and Mark Lambert said the district dodged, not a ball, but a bullet recently. The sports portion of the budget had been trimmed from a 15 percent increase to just 1 percent through careful planning, he said, but the increase could have been much worse.

Macura explained a recent settlement with officials saved the district what could have been considerable additional costs for sporting events when officials agreed not to add mileage charges to their fees.

“The effects could have been unbelievable,” Macura said. The district and other outlying areas farther from larger towns could have faced paying mileage on top of regular official’s fees significantly raising the cost of having referees on Granville’s fields and courts.

For special education Somich said the increase in that portion of the budget would be 14 percent over last year due to an increase in the population of “identified” students and rising costs at BOCES. Somich said the question often comes up as to whether the district could do some of what BOCES does within the district to save money.

“We really can’t in many situations,” she said.

Somich said the district saw 123 students enter the district last year and of those 34 percent fell under special education. “That’s an unknown that we couldn’t have planned for,” she said.

 

 

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