Schenectady County

Mohonasen budget would cut 13 teachers, others

The equivalent of 13 full-time teaching positions would be eliminated — fewer than originally projec

The equivalent of 13 full-time teaching positions would be eliminated — fewer than originally projected — under a $44.1 million budget being considered by Mohonasen Central School District officials.

Superintendent Kathleen Spring said the district received about $200,000 more in state aid than was expected under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s original proposed budget. That additional funding allows 3.5 positions to be restored.

Spring said some of the aid is targeted for specific programs. General foundation aid increased by about $76,000.

“That’s the first increase in foundation aid in four years,” she said. “It certainly doesn’t make us whole, especially with the escalating costs.”

The budget would increase by $1.2 million, or 2.75 percent.

If the budget is adopted, six elementary teaching positions would be eliminated. This is down from the eight originally projected. Also slated to be cut are science, social studies, math, English and music language positions, as well as parts of positions in art, physical education and health, technology, family and consumer science and reading.

The English teaching position is a retirement but the rest are layoffs, according to Spring.

With the additional funds, the district is restoring 1.2 positions in the high school.

In addition to the instructional positions, there would be a half a position cut in the transportation department, the elimination of two or three bus drivers through consolidating runs, elimination of two teaching assistants and changing a custodian position to a lower-paying cleaner position. In addition, the district is not filling a vacant assistant principal and English language arts administrator position.

When the district started the budget process, Spring was looking at reducing 25 to 27 teachers.

Class size would increase by a couple of students in some of the elementary grades, but not as severely as if more teachers had been laid off. Some classes would have had 30 students under that scenario, according to Spring.

Spring said a better education funding formula is needed. Mohonasen is more heavily reliant on state aid and the district’s wealth is lower than average.

The district is being bombarded with mandates including the new teacher evaluation system and there is no additional funding from the state, she said. The district is doing the best it can to preserve programs, however its costs are going up by 4 percent to 5 percent annually and the tax levy is limited to an increase of 2 percent or slightly more.

“If something substantial doesn’t change with the funding formula, we are looking at a district that may not exist in two years,” she said.

Denise Swezey, assistant superintendent for business, said the district received some good news on health insurance. For most of the policies, the increase will be in the 2 percent to 4 percent range.

In addition, the board is taking $250,000 more from surplus than it did last year — about $1.25 million total.

The board is scheduled to adopt the budget at a special meeting at 6 p.m. April 16 in the high school’s Farnsworth Technology Center.

If it is adopted, Rotterdam homeowners with an average assessment of $150,000 would see their taxes increased by about $53 a year to $2,384. Guilderland taxpayers with similar assessments would see their taxes increase by $62 to $2,768. For a similarly assessed home in Colonie, the taxes would go up about $80 to $3,534.

Three board seats are available for three-year terms. Nominating petitions are available in the district office. They must be submitted by 5 p.m. April 16.

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