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Penn Yan plans 20 job reductions

PENN YAN—The budget proposal for the Penn Yan Central School District presented at the board of education meeting March 3 included reduction of 20.5 staff positions. Final retirement figures were not expected to be available until March 5 for teachers and the following week for other employees. A preliminary estimate of seven retirements was projected district wide and 13.5 layoffs.
Assistant superintendent for Business Doug Tomandl presented a comparison between the current budget and new figure for next year which reflects cuts of $2,155,796. The revised total of $31,790,159 carries a 2.1 percent increase in spending as contrasted with the earlier figure of $33,945,956. The new figure represents a 4.36 percent tax increase under executive proposal. Still unknown is the amount of state aid that will affect the final budget.
Tomandl listed several goals of the budgeting process including maintaining funding, safety, course offerings, a stable and affordable tax levy and keeping the budget to budget increase under three percent. Tomandl outlined the process to date, noting the group has been meeting since October 2009 and has reviewed each line item in the budget. Tomandl emphasized that in constructing a school budget mandated budget items and contractual obligations equal the majority of budget spending. Program, administration and capital make up the three parts of the budget. Comparisons between the current budget and the one that was proposed during the meeting indicated a 1.48 percent increase in program, a 9.03 percent decrease in administration and a 10.20 percent increase in capital costs.
Tomandl also reviewed contingency budgets—that is, the budget that would be adopted if the final budget presented to district voters is not approved. Following Tomandl’s presentation, board of education president Jeff Morehouse said, “I think everybody did a fantastic job getting us where we are. I think the board was looking at a three percent increase. Could you do this?”
Tomandl also fielded questions about the possible use of reserve funds. Superintendent of Schools Ann Orman spoke about staff reductions, commenting, “Retirement incentives are not due yet. I’m not sure if we have all in yet. To cut $2 million we have spent hours and hours and some tears. It’s been a tough week. We will come back at the next meeting probably with more cuts.” Board member Mike VanWormer added, “This problem won’t go away next year. Last year we had a zero percent tax increase. It is tough. We must remember who lives in this district and try to be sensitive.”
In other business: The board heard a report on the capital project at the Academy from Jim Higgins of LeChase Construction. He said work on band, fitness and chorus areas is slightly ahead of schedule as is demolition in the auditorium mezzanine, fitness room and the lobby in front of the auditorium. Although demolition of the auditorium is complete, Higgins said some structural repairs will be needed. Renovation on the roof will begin in April.
Orman said she has had a couple of inquiries about the Branchport school building. It was appraised at approximately $250,000 a year ago. She said if an offer was received the board would decide if it was reasonable, then a purchase offer could be made. The sale would be subject to a referendum which would require 10 percent of district voters, about 800 residents, to force a vote. Orman said, “I think people want the building sold and to use the money.” She said the information she presented was a reminder of what the process would be adding, “If we sell the building, the money can be put in a reserve fund to offset tax increases over three years.
Assistant superintendent for instruction and staff development Howard Dennis reviewed the shared decision making process. He said the actual plan was unchanged except for a minor change in the process of establishing the agenda.
The board tabled action on a fee proposal from King & King architects for the 2010 building condition survey. Superintendent of schools Ann Orman said the fee would go down by approximately $12,000 if the Academy building is not included in the survey, noting she feels the high school would be exempt from the survey. Possible sale of the Branchport school building would also affect the cost of the survey which would be eligible for 58 percent state aid.
The next meeting of the district board of education will be at 7 p.m. March 17 in the elementary school cafeteria.

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