Watkins cuts staff, expenses districtwide
WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen Central School District has already handed out pink-slips to 15 teachers and staff members in the high school, middle school and elementary.
Superintendent Tom Phillips explained the cuts are needed to cover the estimated $1.4 million 2012-13 budget gap. He added that if the district receives any additional aid funds or if there are any retirements/resignations, then positions could be restored. However, as the budget currently stands, the 15 employees will be cut from the 2012-13 school year.
Phillips said the positions are:
• Six at the high school (history, science, business education, library/media, reading, and guidance).
• Five districtwide (foreign language, two health/physical education, special education, and music).
• Two at the elementary.
• One at the middle school.
• One instructional support.
Phillips said the 15 cuts equal $1,055,497. He added programs will also be cut. He said while the district will still offer all the same classes, they may be held on alternating years or semesters. Phillips added there will also be “an increase in class sizes and erosion of the student support network (guidance and academic interventional services).” He also said the district will save money by switching to single busing. He explained Watkins Glen is looking at modified sports and all stipend positions for other cuts.
Another factor in the budget gap is the amount of money the district can raise through taxes. The state has enacted a tax cap that uses an eight-step formula to determine each school’s maximum allowable tax levy increase. Phillips explained Watkins’ estimated tax levy increase is 2.49 percent, which would equal in $198,815.
Phillips said he has urged the board of education not to exceed the cap in creating the 2012-13 budget. He explained the district can only pass a budget with a tax levy over the maximum allowable amount with at least 60 percent voter approval.
“The whole issue for me is that the state shifted costs to the local community,” said Phillips. “My whole plea is I have no problem with the tax cap, but you have to provide mandate relief.”
He pointed out that an anti-bullying law goes into affect this year, which he said he supports. However, the Dignity for All Students Act requires each district to appoint a coordinator who will undergo an intensive training program. Phillips added there is no money being given to the schools to comply with the law.