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What you need to know for 07/24/2017

Massive cuts eyed in Broadalbin-Perth School District

Massive cuts eyed in Broadalbin-Perth School District

Massive cuts are on the table as the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District begins to draw up its

Massive cuts are on the table as the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District begins to draw up its 2013 budget.

Officials are proposing to lay off approximately 32 teachers and 10 staffers; curtail or eliminate sports, academic and after-school programs; and reduce the full-day kindergarten program to half-day to close an estimated $2.4 million budget gap.

“We want to communicate that this is very serious and that this is what we will have to do if things don’t change,” said Board of Education President Edward Szumowski.

The district sent layoff notices to teachers about a week ago, he said. The district has to notify teachers by April 1 of proposed layoffs, so notices went out six weeks early. Other staff were notified by a district bulletin.

Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson said he sent out layoff notices early because the school has a clear picture of the district’s finances, thanks to the certainty of the property levy tax cap.

While emphasizing that the decision to cut is not yet final, district officials said they are proposing to eliminate art and music instruction in the elementary schools; French and upper-level Spanish classes; and all interscholastic athletics and extracurricular programs.

The district also plans to reduce technology instruction at its elementary and middle schools; health instruction at its middle school; science, social studies and business electives at its high school; and career and technical education opportunities for high school students. It also plans to eliminate after-school activities.

The proposed cuts will save $2 million, leaving the district to find $400,000 more in savings, Tomlinson said. “We are still working out the details,” he added.

Also, should district residents reject the proposed 2013 budget, the district would have to find another $400,000 in savings, he said.

“We have a budgetary problem. Our aid has been held flat for at least four years and our expenses have continued to rise,” Szumowski said. “This year, we have a 2 percent tax cap and when 60 percent of your budget is in personnel and when expenses for personnel go up more than 2 percent each year, that eats into the tax cap quickly.”

He added: “The tax cap puts us in a difficult position. The only solution other than cutting all the things we have already cut is to cut personnel. We are down to bone. We are cutting people who we consider to be essential.”

The Board of Education will discuss the proposed cuts at its meeting next Monday night, Szumowski said.

The school board last year adopted a $29.5 million contingency budget following voter rejection of the board’s proposed budget at the polls. The budget raised taxes by an average of 5 percent while eliminating five positions and cutting spending for equipment, student supplies and overtime for after-hour use of school buildings.

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