Friday, March 25, 2011

School Budget So Far

I don't have much to say about the Budget Discussion we atended last Monday, which is why I haven't posted about it till now. The BoE looked at four scenarios--a 2 percent levy increase, a 4 percent levy increase, a 6 percent levy increase, and an 8 percent levy increase. Things are heading toward the 6 percent number, it seems. They spent a long time and a lot of paper explaining the various reserve funds, in light of the discovery at Trumansburg a few weeks back that the business official there had regularly rolled over costs until the reserves held a massive (and illegal) $9 million. Not so at Dryden, we are assured.

People were encouraged to make suggestions and remarks; the best and most practical came from Tim Kirkpatrick, science teacher and union official. Closing the small schools was brought up once again, with the inequities in class sizes being the prominent reason. The BoE agreed that all class sizes would rise to about 20 at the elementary and a max perhaps of over 30 in some high school classes. I believe that getting to 20 at the small schools will be a major juggling feat. Someone pointed out that already, kids from Livermore Road near the big elementary school are bused to Cassavant. Growing our tax base was another theme; the mayor of the village of Dryden was serving as timekeeper and presumably took note.

Anyway, no good news, but we didn't expect any. Interesting tidbits from the Superintendent's presentation include that since 2003, student enrollment has decreased by 5 percent, teaching staff by 6 percent, and administration by 17 percent. Losses in the instructional area with a 6 percent levy add up to 6 aides, 9 teaching assistants, 4 elementary teachers, 1 PE teacher, .4 science teacher, and .4 math teacher. (It's worth noting that Paul's district hasn't had aides that weren't special-ed mandated for some years now.) Spanish will now be taught starting at 8th grade, not 6th. (I struggled for quite some time to get it down to 6th from 7th.) Extracurriculars and sports will take a hard hit. The union has agreed to let volunteers serve as assistant coaches, something that happens at many (most?) districts around here already.

We may find out today whether Albany's three men in a room added back some dollars for education. Stay tuned.

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