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Watkins looks at cutting 15 positions

    WATKINS GLEN—Watkins Glen school board President Brian O’Donnell said due to cuts in aid and the tax cap, the district is looking at cutting 15 or more staff positions.
    The board of education heard about the budget at the Monday, Feb. 6, school board meeting. O’Donnell said the 15 plus positions are in addition to the 17.5 positions the district has already cut over the past few years due to the budget deficits. He added the revenue limitations means cutting into programs as well.
    “We don’t want to do it, but it’s something we have to,” he said.
    O’Donnell said the consolidation of the middle school will help, but those cost savings won’t be felt for a few years. He explained the schools are in a downward spiral because of less state and federal aid and a cap on how much funds districts can raise through taxes. Watkins Glen faces an estimated $1.4 million budget gap for the 2012-13 school year.
    Superintendent Tom Phillips added Watkins Glen has lost $2.4 million in revenue from 2009 to 2013 from aid cuts. He added that Watkins Glen isn’t facing a budget deficit because they haven’t planned for this shift in funds, but because they can’t bridge the gap with the tax levy cap in place.
    “One option is reducing our costs,” said Phillips. “That means lowering the number of people we have on board.”
    Addressing costs, Phillips added that ACE courses, which offer students college credits, actually bring money into the district. He explained that Watkins is paid by Corning Community College for staff teaching the classes. Phillips said Watkins has received $38,230 from Corning already this year from the ACE courses.
    In related business, the board approved the $24,592,190 bond to fund the voter-approved capital project and consolidation.
    The next Watkins school board meeting is Monday March 5. It is expected to begin at 6:30 p.m., following an executive session.



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