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Mohonasen faces staff reductions

Mohonasen faces staff reductions

Mohonasen could end up eliminating the equivalent of 17 full-time positions because of a $1.9 millio

Mohonasen could end up eliminating the equivalent of 17 full-time positions because of a $1.9 million reduction in state aid and an increase in nondiscretionary costs, district officials said.

Superintendent Kathleen Spring said the draft 2010-2011 budget would increase spending by about 0.08 percent or $341,676. But a dramatic dip in state aid means the district will need to raise the tax levy by about 2.5 percent, even with the proposed reduction in staff.

“Over the past month, it became pretty clear that we were going to have to make drastic cuts,” she said.

The staff cuts include a reduction of seven elementary school teachers, four support staff substitutes, three secondary subject positions and a number of part-time workers. In total, Spring said, about 25 district employees could be affected by the proposed staff reductions.

Mohonasen’s Board of Education has scheduled a public meeting in the high school’s Farnsworth Technology Center for 6 tonight. Spring said the board is seeking input from residents about the cuts and gauging whether residents are comfortable with the impact the budget proposal will have on the district.

“We want to hear from the public and what they think about the cuts,” she said.

Spring said class sizes will likely increase as a result of the staff reductions. For instance, both the second- and third-grade classes could increase from 19 students this year to 23 students next year under the spending plan, according to figures provided by the district.

“It’s across the board,” she said of the cuts. “And if nothing changes, this [budget proposal] is pretty realistic.”

The district also will trim about $630,000 in cuts in other areas, including budget lines for equipment, BOCES services, conferences and athletics. Spring said the cuts were aimed at ensuring that the programs at Mohonasen are not affected.

In total, the budget trims about $2.5 million. But the drop in state aid means the district is faced with plugging a $3.2 million gap between revenues and expenses.

And if more cuts are required, Spring said certain programs could face the ax. She said the district approved an austere budget last year, which left few discretionary items to trim this year without having an impact on the quality of education.

“We’re pretty much to the bone at this point,” she said.

Last year, reductions in state aid forced Mohonasen to eliminate about seven full-time equivalent positions. The $42.3 million budget increased spending by about 1 percent, resulting in a 0.59 percent tax increase.

Like many other districts across the state, Mohonasen was able to stave off much deeper cuts by relying on funding from the federal economic stimulus bill. Spring said that funding is poised to run out, which means next year’s budget planning could be even more difficult.

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