Thursday, March 18, 2010

Budget and Other Updates

I have been off the grid for about a week trying to finish the budget and deal with some things happening around the school. Since I last posted we experienced the tragic loss of a first-grade student, Sarah Peek. She was a wonderful little girl and shared her short life with us which made an impact on us that will be with us forever.

We also experienced some great athletic successes. First, our cheerleaders won a national tournament in Ohio. Second, our hockey team not only who the New York State Championship, they also won the New York State Scholar Athlete Award; a very challenging award to receive (the entire team has to have a grade point average greater than 90%; they had a grade point average of 95+%).

We also recognized several of our students as National Merit Scholar finalists as well, which we were very proud of.

Building the budget has been quite a challenge. I am sure that by now you have seen that our faculty and staff have been incredibly cooperative in trying to help us bridge the budget gap. Because of their efforts in negotiations, we had to lay off 16 people for next year instead of 40-50. This being said, I completely understand that unemployment in our community is nearing 10% and that we need to deliver a tax levy that is manageable in these challenging times.

As a result, we are also looking at cost cutting measures through sharing transportation services, regionalization of transportation, maximizing what state aid is left, and considering other programs.

As we watch situations in other District's unfold, we can count our blessings that we were in a position to get out ahead on the budget, we made our tough choices, and we can now move forward with a reasonably normal rest of the school year.

An item that could be problematic in the 2011-2012 budget revolves around sales tax. The County has proposed to no longer give school District's a percentage of the sales tax revenues that we receive. If this actually happens, our loss will be about $1.2M for the 2011-2012 school year. I was recently misquoted in the news regarding this. I was quoted as saying that we would pass this increase along to taxpayers. This is not true.

If we were to lose $1.2M in sales tax, we are down to a few options; one of them being to pass it through to the taxpayers. The other options, since was have already renegotiated contracts at a lower percentage, increased class size, and cut staff, are to take a look at reducing offerings in athletics, fine arts, extra-curricular activities, and Advanced Placement courses. Again, these decisions will have to be made next year as we look forward to the 2011-2012 budget if we do not receive sales tax revenue as we have in the past. My guess is that the solution will incorporate a combination of everything that I listed above. They will all be tough but necessary decisions.

The entire budget presentation is on our web site from the home page and a video recording of the budget will be available shortly.

Good times!