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Watkins expects $127K in restored aid

WATKINS GLEN—Watkins Glen Superintendent Tom Phillips said the school district was told to expect at least $127,000 back from the state in restored aid, Monday, March 25.
Phillips spoke to the board of education’s finance committee about two letters the district received that same day. He explained one letter said every district can expect to receive a minimum of $100,000 back from the gap elimination adjustment. Phillips explained the totals will be calculated using a 10-step formula and are expected to be announced sometime Tuesday. Watkins was also told the district would be getting back around $27,000 in foundation aid.
Phillips said if the numbers turn out to be about this much his recommendation is to put the funds back into reserve accounts. Specifically, he suggested $25,000 or more into employee retirement reserve and $100,000 to the tax certiorari fund. Phillips explained the district should have more funds in the certiorari fund due to the ongoing tax settlement with Wal-Mart and Inergy.
Phillips explained Watkins has used too much reserve funds in the last three years “to the point I’m extremely uncomfortable.” His recommendation was to still cut one elementary teacher and one school counselor from the upcoming 2013-14 school budget. Phillips added a retiring high school teacher will be replaced for at least one year given the number of students.
The board agreed to go with Phillips’ recommendation, but will meet again if the actual restored aid is vastly different than what is expected. The budget must be approved by Monday, April 8.
In reviewing the budget at the committee meeting, Phillips also pointed out the eighth grade class will be the only grade level with over 100 students next year. He said the district needs to fit staffing around the current levels, which will be made harder until the middle school is closed. He explained teachers have to deal with the time needed to transport between the middle school and main campus and prepare.
“It absolutely begs the questions, can we be more effective?” asked Phillips.






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