By Matthew Saari

The Granville Board of Education has approved a $26 million spending plan for the 2020-2021 school year that will include 11 staff layoffs.

Board members and school administrators met remotely Tuesday night via Google Meet during which time the budget was presented and approved by an 8-0 vote, with board member Patricia Aunchman absent.

“Tonight we prepared a budget that is a 2.05% decrease,” said school business manager Cathy Somich.

The budget stands at $26,136,086, which represents a $546,425 decrease from the current year’s spending, Somich said. The associated tax levy will remain flat.

“There is no tax increase for the fifth year,” said Somich.

However, to keep the levy flat, the school is utilizing $2 million from its fund balance, laying off 11 staff members and not backfilling several positions.

The positions being cut were not revealed during the meeting and McGurl did not return a call requesting additional comment by press time.

The reason behind the budget reduction and staff cuts is the state pulling a significant chunk of financial aid to public schools statewide – possibly.

Because the state is facing budgetary shortfalls of its own due to the COVID-19 pandemic, legislators enacted periodic “look back” sessions throughout the year, the first of which was April 30. If the state budget is found to be lacking at those times, legislators will pull state funding. However, no definitive answers have been provided from the first session as yet.

“It’s all unknown at this point,” Somich said.

Because of the unknowns – including two more “look backs” throughout the year – the district budget is subject to change.

Right now, Somich said, the school administration is planning for a worst-case 20% reduction in state aid. If it is less, than the district can look at bringing staff back or using the aid to defray potential cuts in the future, which state officials have previously said is likely to happen.

“Even amidst the difficult challenges of the current fiscal year, we must be mindful of the longer term,” said state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in April. “Tax revenues are likely to be diminished by the pandemic into the next fiscal year, and possibly beyond. The state should minimize long-term costs from any debt that might be issued for deficit financing purposes, and make a commitment to consistently build our rainy day reserves to help assure continuation of essential services during times of disruption in the future.”

A budget hearing will be held on Monday, June 1 via Good Meet. District residents can dial in by phone at 1-929-324-9608 and enter PIN 747362093# to join.

The district budget vote and school board election will be held on Tuesday, June 9, by absentee ballot.

District residents will receive their absentee ballot the week of May 26, district clerk Ashlee Zinn said, with the vote taking place on June 9. If a ballot is not received by June 1, district residents need to contact Zinn at the district office.

The ballot, Zinn said, will consist of three envelopes – one containing the entire packet, the second being an “oath” envelope and the third being a return envelope.

District voters are to complete the ballot and insert it into the “oath” envelope after which they seal and sign it. The “oath” envelope then goes in the return envelope which is mailed to the district.

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