Saratoga County

BH-BL schools chief goes easy on budget cuts

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake schools superintendent has recommended $861,000 in budget cuts next ye

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake schools superintendent has recommended $861,000 in budget cuts next year, the least austere of three proposed spending plans.

Superintendent Jim Schultz’s recommendation would eliminate 13.3 full-time-equivalent jobs. Most of the teaching and administrative cuts are part-time reductions in hours, so the cuts would likely affect 19 employees, plus three assistant coaches whose positions would be eliminated.

The cuts, along with the expenditure of $1 million in leftover funds from previous budgets and $645,000 in federal stimulus money, would mean a tax levy increase of 2.4 percent across the district.

Districts throughout the state are expected to lose state aid this year because of the state’s budget crisis.

Now the budget deliberations are turned over to the Board of Education to decide. The board will discuss the proposed $54.6 million spending plan for 2011-12 at its meeting at 7:30 tonight, and a special budget forum will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 29, at the O’Rourke Middle School cafetorium.

The current year’s budget is $53.4 million.

“I imagine that the Board of Education will make some additional changes to this, because it is still a work in progress,” said district spokeswoman Christy Multer. The board votes on the budget April 12.

Some board members have said they want a lower tax increase than 2.4 percent, and members of the public at a budget forum earlier this month said they’d pay more taxes to avoid cutting programs.

The recommended job cuts are: three elementary school teachers (one in each building), a full-time custodial supervisor, a part-time special education administrator, a part-time middle school dean of students, a half-time clerical position, a part-time physical education teacher, a part-time health department head, a full-time high school security monitor, a full-time evening cleaner, a part-time English teacher, a part-time social studies teacher, clerical help in the district office, three full-time special education teaching assistants, a part-time art teacher and a part-time music teacher.

Officials would achieve the savings in middle and high school part-time teaching jobs by having one or two fewer class sections, shuffling the classes so there’s about 25 students instead of 22 in each class in English and social studies, for example, Multer said.

“One section [eliminated] across the whole school is not a lot,” she said.

In the elementary school, lower expected enrollments in certain grades mean the district can cut one teacher in each school, Multer said.

Under the plan, Charlton Heights would lose a first-grade teacher, Stevens would lose a second-grade teacher and Pashley would lose a first-grade teacher.

Each school would then have three sections of each grade instead of four.

“It’s basically driven by enrollment,” she said.

Assistant basketball, wrestling and football coaches — one of each — also would be eliminated. The junior varsity fall and winter cheerleading season would be eliminated.

District officials also expect to save over $100,000 by hiring less-experienced staff to replace people who retire at the end of the year.

Since he presented the possible budget cuts earlier in the month, Schultz dropped his plan to hire a full-time energy savings manager for $80,000 and now proposes spending $20,000 on equipment or services that would cut energy costs by at least that much.

The district has asked its unions to make concessions to save money next year, but so far, none of the unions have said they will do so.

In other district news, three school board seats are up for election.

All three incumbents — John Blowers, Patre Kuziak, and Joe Pericone — plan to run again, and there is one challenger so far, John Kelch.

There’s still time for others to pick up paperwork at the district office and gather 61 signatures of registered voters before the April 15 deadline. Call Multer for more information at 399-9141 ext. 5017.

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