Press-Republican

March 29, 2013

NACS proposes staff cuts

By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
Press-Republican

---- — ELLENBURG CORNERS — Officials at Northern Adirondack Central School have proposed a 2013-14 spending plan that maintains all current district programming.

“We’re able to preserve our programs (and) our extracurricular activities,” NAC Superintendent Laura Marlow told the Press-Republican.

Though the district anticipates a state-aid hike of about 2.7 percent, or $333,000, in the coming school year, increases for pensions and health care have created a budget gap of nearly $650,000.

The superintendent, however, has recommended bridging that gap, in part, by reducing about $500,000 in expenditures.

The proposed reductions include the elimination of one physical-education/driver-education teacher and one French teacher, both through attrition, as well as one special-education and two elementary teachers. In addition, an open technology teaching position would not be filled.

3.5% LEVY INCREASE

Despite the cuts, the district would continue to offer driver’s education, according to Marlow, and a part-time teacher would be hired to instruct upper-level French courses.

Technology classes, she said, would be taught by existing qualified staff.

In addition, Marlow said, the district assessed enrollment figures and concluded that elementary class sizes would remain below state averages even with the elimination of two teachers. The reduction of a special-education teacher would not affect the quality of services offered to students with special needs, she said.  

To bridge the remainder of the gap, the district has proposed a tax-levy increase of 3.5 percent.

“We’re trying to share the financial responsibility with our community,” School Business Executive Brian Tousignant said. 

Marlow noted that while the district’s calculated tax-levy limit is about 7 percent, NAC has proposed an increase of only half that, as school officials are mindful that the community is facing difficult financial times. 

“Families are struggling, so what we’re proposing here is very minimal,” she said.

MORE SECURITY

The district has proposed a base budget of $18.8 million for next school year; the spending plan has not yet been approved by the School Board.

NAC plans to allocate an additional $2 million in 2013-14 for repayment of its soon-to-be completed capital project; however, Marlow said, that money will be entirely offset by state aid and will come at no cost to taxpayers.  

In addition, the district will budget $100,000 for additional security measures on campus, aided at 90 percent through the State Education Department.

Those measures could include the installation of additional security cameras, entrance-monitoring systems for all offices and perimeter fencing by the elementary playground, as well as phone-system upgrades. 

Marlow believes such measures would bolster the security elements that are already in place at the school yet allow NAC to remain an educational campus rather than becoming a sterile environment.  

“I believe that you can never do enough as far as keeping your campus safe and secure,” she said. 

It is anticipated that the School Board will adopt a 2013-14 spending plan at its meeting on Thursday, April 25.

Email Ashleigh Livingston:alivingston@pressrepublican.com