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Cuts continue in Penn Yan school budget

PENN YAN—The second presentation of the proposed 2011-2012 Penn Yan Central School District was made during the board of education meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 16.
Assistant Superintendent for Business Douglas Tomandl said the gap between expenses and expected revenue for the 2011-12 school year in has been reduced. The gap announced earlier this month was $3.4 million. Some additional revenue will help reduce the gap. It includes $541,000 from the Federal Jobs Act, $471,000 from ERS, $100,000 from sale of the Branchport School and a $60,000 rebate from NYSERTA. Despite the reductions and increased revenue, the gap is $1,486,676. Cuts to date total $1,556,239. The new budget figure proposed for the upcoming school year is $32,341,087. This translates to a tax levy of 9.49 percent, a reduction of .06 percent from the previous percentage.
Tomandl outlined a number of possible actions. One of the most difficult cuts to consider is reduction of positions district wide. The current number projected is 18.5. Eleven of those positions are expected to be lost through attrition. In the past two years, 34.5 positions have been eliminated. Some other actions include reduction of supplies and materials district wide and reworked debt service.
Tomandl said employee benefits are going up about 14.1 percent. These benefits include retirement, health care and FICA. Program costs are down about four percent. Although the new budget shows an increase of just 2.2 percent, the bad news is that the district will not see a revenue increase without a tax increase.
Unfunded mandates and contractual obligations must be addressed. There are 151 mandates. Challenges include how to maintain program levels without overburdening taxpayers. Tomandl said he would like to keep the budget increase under three percent. Diminishing resources such as cuts to aid and a cap on property taxes is another challenge.
Following the presentation, board members added their thoughts. Ryan Hallings said, “I want to ensure we offer the highest possible education without increasing the tax burden. A zero percent increase could impact the program too much. I do not see how you can do it without a tax increase.” Mike VanWormer said, “It hits those who can afford it the least. They get hit the hardest. A lot lies in payroll and benefits. I will suggest looking at that. Bring in union reps. Districts are doing this all over the state.” Board president Jeff Morehouse said, “Nine percent increase is not acceptable. There has to be a middle ground somewhere.”
In other business: Interim Superintendent Tom Cox suggested the district look at a plan to move sixth grade to Penn Yan Elementary School in the 2010-2013 school year. Moving seventh and eighth grades to the Academy also might be explored.
• Cox said he has met with superintendents of the Dundee and Marcus Whitman school districts to explore what kinds of things could be shared.
• John Kriese received the Educator of the Year Award from New York State Beef Producers Association. Kriese is a technology teacher at Penn Yan Academy and is advisor to the local chapter of FFA.
• Ten district staff members were granted tenure. Their names and tenure areas follow. Tim Scutt, Physical Education, effective May 31; Brian Cobb, ELA and Students with Disabilities 7-12; Bobbie Dardano, English; Jessica Furber, Art; Jill MacKerchar, Physical Education; Rebecca Morse, Elementary Education; Amanda O’Neil, Special Education, Ashley Tapscott, English and Samantha Warren, Elementary were granted tenure, effective. Sept. 1. Patty Queener was appointed tenure in the Teaching Assistant tenure area, beginning Oct. 2.




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