Press-Republican

Wednesday

April 2, 2014

AVCS faces budget gap

CLINTONVILLE — AuSable Valley Central School faces a $706,793 gap in its 2014-15 spending plan.

The deficit, AVCS Superintendent Paul Savage said at a recent board meeting, is a combination of factors, including loss of state aid, tax-levy limitations and rising costs.

“The budget process has been a really challenging one, and it has been for the last number of years,” he said.

Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget, AVCS would receive an increase of about $1 million in aid over the current year but would lose $732,478 of that increase to the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment.

“When we received the budget, we were disappointed,” Savage said. “The funding itself was not where we need to be.”

STAFFING GETTING SLIM

If the governor’s proposal holds true in the state’s final spending plan, the district will have lost $5.7 million to the Elimination Adjustment over five years.

The minimal aid increase is compounded by significant increases in mandated special-education costs, expenses related to implementation of the state-mandated Common Core Curriculum and an increase in the Teacher Retirement System contribution rate of more than $120,000, according to Savage.

The school’s deficit, he noted, assumes a tax-levy increase at the district’s calculated cap of 2.15 percent.

For the current academic year, AVCS increased its levy by 3.8 percent; its allowable limit was 4.44 percent.

The gap also reflects the elimination of the equivalent of 5.6 full-time positions through attrition next school year. Including those, the district will have cut the equivalent of 20.6 full-time positions since 2011-12, Savage noted.

Though many of those jobs were simply not filled after retirements, he continued, it’s getting to a point where the school can’t keep leaving positions vacant without negatively affecting offerings.

“It’s just becoming difficult to run programs and services,” he said.

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