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Frame says state aid, mandates are problematic

ODESSA—Odessa-Montour Superintendent Jim Frame presented the school board of education with background budget information concerning state funding at the Thursday, Feb. 14, board meeting.
Frame explained the information comes from Dr. Rick Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium. He said the Feb. 12 report provides data and analysis in “extensive detail.” Frame said the packet includes information on the state withholding aid to schools.
“It will blow your mind,” added Frame. “We’re operating on funding levels from 2007 and operating costs increase every year.”
Frame specifically pointed out the gap elimination adjustment, where the state takes back a certain percentage of aid to cover the state budget gap. According to Timbs’ report, Odessa-Montour will lose $512,461 in 2013-14. The district was already charged $709,821 in 2012-13 and $940,132 in 2011-12.
At the same time, the consortium said state aid is decreasing. In 2012-13, Odessa received $8,068,576. In 2008-09, that amount was $8,305,702.
Frame said a copy of the report will eventually be available on the Odessa-Montour website. He encouraged people to review it.
In other business:
• Frame announced there will be a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters to obtain public input on education in the county, Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the Schuyler County Human Services Complex, from 6 to 8 p.m. Both Watkins Glen and the Odessa-Montour school districts will be present. Frame encouraged everyone to attend and bring others with them. He explained, “we need a strong level of participation. The board needs to be informed by your perspective.”
• The board heard presentations from Principals Sara Fontana and Chris Williams about the “character counts” program in the elementary schools. Students are rewarded for displaying good habits. At B.C. Cate a student is recognized each month for embodying a specific character trait.
• Williams also reported on students’ math and reading scores. She said students’ results improved overall this year.
• High school math teachers Russell Gardner and Amber Butler also spoke about students’ grades. Both reported having a large number of students not passing or mastering the subject matter. Gardner said they are looking at what other schools are doing. High school Principal Chris Woods said one idea is to make algebra/trig 2 a non-regents course. He added, “we don’t want (the students) to walk into college ill equipped and not prepared.”





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