Press-Republican

May 6, 2013

NCCS budget calls for many cuts

By ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
Press-Republican

---- — CHAMPLAIN — Northeastern Clinton Central School’s proposed budget cuts positions and electives, even as enrollment has increased.

The spending plan going up for vote May 21 includes nearly $900,000 in reductions.

The $27,044,204 budget is $748,536 less than that of 2012-13, NCCS Interim Superintendent Gerald Blair told the Press-Republican.

The district initially faced a deficit of about $1.2 million for 2013-14, but that was partially bridged by a 3 percent increase in state aid — an additional $430,000 — over the current year.

“That was a godsend,” he said.

STAFF REDUCTIONS

Numerous cuts are employed to close the remaining gap, including the elimination of one English and one math teacher, both in the Middle School; two kindergarten teaching assistants; three bus monitors; two part-time clerical positions; and a part-time custodial position.

In addition, five full-time jobs will be eliminated through attrition, including a foreign-language teaching position, Middle School English teaching job, Middle School social studies teaching position, elementary physical-education teacher and a custodian.

And seven Middle High School teachers would be reduced by 20 percent.

“The effect on students will be to the point that we will have less electives,” Blair said. “We will maintain all of the core courses for graduation, and electives will be reduced.”

MORE STUDENTS

Still, he noted, it’s not easy putting together a course schedule when the district has not only eliminated close to 15 positions in the last two years, but has also experienced an increase in enrollment.

NCCS has 68 more students this school year than it had in 2011-12, spread out over the grade levels, according to Blair.

“They came from a variety of places, and they were not local,” he said.

FURLOUGH DAYS

Also reduced by the proposed spending plan are the hours for a Middle High School nurse by 40 percent, a maintenance person by 20 percent, a custodial worker by 20 percent and a school psychologist by 40 percent.

Furlough days would also be mandated for all district principals and assistant principals, the director of special education, business manager, account clerk typist, head of transportation, district treasurer and supervisor of buildings and grounds, as well as guidance counselors and school psychologists.

The plan also calls for the superintendent to take 40 days off without pay next school year.

PROGRAM CUTS

Other cuts include $20,000 from the athletics program, $2,000 from both the Harvard Model United Nations program and annual sixth-grade Outdoor Education Program and reductions in contracted services and materials, supplies and field-trip expenditures.

Blair added that some student aides may also be reduced or eliminated throughout the district.

The interim superintendent said he recently approached the district’s collective bargaining groups about making concessions in an effort to avoid some of the cuts but was unsuccessful.

“I got nothing back from the unions,” he said.

TAX-LEVY LIMIT

In addition to the reductions, the spending plan relies on the use of $1.5 million in fund balance, which would leave about $80,000 in reserves.

NCCS has also proposed a tax-levy increase at the district’s limit of 2.75 percent.

If the budget does not win public OK on Tuesday, May 21,, the district would have one more chance to put a spending plan up for public approval before being forced to adopt a contingency, or austerity, plan.

“I will have to reduce another $280,000 out of the budget to be on an austerity level,” Blair said.

Northeastern Clinton will hold a public budget hearing on the plan at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Mooers Elementary School.

Email Ashleigh Livingston:alivingston@pressrepublican.com