Press-Republican

January 31, 2013

NAC sets goal of maintaining programs

By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
Press-Republican

---- — ELLENBURG CORNERS — Officials at Northern Adirondack Central School are determined to develop a 2013-14 budget that maintains all of the district’s current programs.  

“That’s our goal,” said NACS Superintendent Laura Marlow, adding she is confident the district will be able to achieve it. 

“We are going to do our best not to eliminate any programs.”

The district, Marlow added, will also try to put forth a spending plan that is within Northern Adirondack’s calculated tax cap.

“We are very much aware that this fiscal cliff has already hit most households, and we do not want to put any more burden on the taxpayer,” she said. 

Those goals were set at this week’s budget session, during which the School Board reviewed projected revenues and expenditures for next school year.

DEALING WITH UNKNOWNS

Based on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2013-14 executive budget, Marlow said, NAC estimates receiving a 3 percent increase in state aid, which would bring the school’s total state aid for next school year to just over $12 million. 

However, she noted, those figures are only preliminary estimates. 

On the expenditures side, Marlow said, it is too soon to determine what the district’s staffing needs will be come fall, as that is directly based on enrollment figures and class sizes, which are also not yet available. 

And the school, she continued, is still not sure what its employee health-care costs and retirement-system contributions will look like in 2013-14. 

“Those are all unknowns at this time,” she said.

CUOMO PROPOSALS

The superintendent added she is encouraged by the mention in Cuomo’s executive budget proposal of fiscal stabilization funding, mandate relief and a stable-rate pension contribution option for school districts in the upcoming academic year. 

The stabilization funding would provide one-time financial relief to districts to help with increases in fixed costs, while the pension option would allow schools to have a steady retirement-contribution rate for a period of years. 

“That would be helpful,” Marlow said. 

In addition, she noted, Cuomo’s mandate-relief proposal would exclude districts with less than 1,000 students, such as NAC, from having to go through an annual and expensive internal audit. 

But while Cuomo’s proposed spending plan is “a step in the right direction,” Marlow said, it likely won’t serve as a fiscal cure for schools, which have experienced significant reductions in state aid over the years. 

“I still believe districts are going to be in financial hardships despite those efforts,” she said.

Email Ashleigh Livingston: alivingston@pressrepublican.com