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March 20, 2014

Superintendent: CV-S needs help for budget

By Meghan McCaffrey Contributing Writer
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Superintendent Tim Ryan presented the projected budget for the 2014-2015 school year on Mar. 6. saying that Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School needs an increase in state aid in order to meet the financial needs of the district.

“Things are going to be extremely rough in the next few years if things don’t change,” Ryan said.

Ryan also said the budget is still subject to change at this point.

“The budget is loosely completed. What I mean by that is there’s a lot of things that can still change, state aid can still change, our special education numbers and figures can still change,” Ryan said.

Ryan said there would not be “solid” figures until the end of March or the beginning of April.

“A lot of these things could change but this will kind of give you an overview of where we are,” Ryan said.

Ryan said he developed the budget based on the previous year’s usage and the projected needs of CVSCS.

He divided the budget into three separate categories, the administrative, capital and program component.

The administrative budget, which includes: the BOE, the superintendent’s office, and general administrative costs, is up 2.3 percent to $1.1 million, he said.

The capital budget includes the operation and maintenance of facilities, tax refunds from previous years, and payments on any debts such as busses, Ryan said. The capital budget for the 2014-2015 school year is $2.5 million, which actually went down about five percent from this year’s budget of $2.7 million.

The program component budget entails the instruction and support of the students, special education, transportation of students, teacher and staff salaries, textbooks, materials, supply costs and BOCES costs, Ryan said. This portion makes up the majority of the budget, Ryan said.

The 2014-2015 program budget has increased by $269,000 or a little less than three percent to $9.3 million from last years budget of about $9 million. The majority of this increase is due to an increased need in special education, as costs went up by $210,000 in the district.

“We have information that in the fall we will have three incoming kindergarten students that all will probably need placement outside of our building,” Ryan said.

“That’s why the special education increase is so large,” he continued.

Another major financial change to the program category is that Ryan has decided to eliminate the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) distance learning program which saves the district $63,000, he said.

“It’s not something that I think has been used a lot here in the past,” Ryan said.

Difficulty to match bell schedules with CVSCS timing, poor reception and an overall lack of utilization by CV-S students were some of the reasons for cutting this program, he said.

The overall projected budget for 2014-2015, with all three components combined, is about $13 million, Ryan said. This is about $161,000 more than last year’s budget.

The projected amount of state aid is only $7.1 million, Ryan said, but, he hopes that will change.

“I’m hoping that in the end of March or beginning of April we’re going to get a nice letter that says … we’re increasing your aid,” Ryan said.

Ryan then reviewed the tax cap in Cherry Valley-Springfield; the tax levy limit for this new budget is 3.96 percent, he said.

“That means that we can put out to the voters anything below 3.96 and only need a majority approval,” Ryan said.

“If we go over three point nine six percent, we need to get 60 percent or more voter approval,” he continued.

Ryan then discussed the feasibility of increasing taxes by either two percent, 2.92 percent or to 3.96 percent. Ryan said increasing taxes by two or 2.92 percent will still mean that CVSCS will have to dip into their reserve fund balance. Increasing taxes by 3.9 percent will cover the budget increase from last year, he said.

“If we continue the way we are, having to borrow from the fund balance and not get an increase in state aid or not get the Gap Elimination Adjustment taken care of, within a few years we’ll be down to pretty much no reserves and no fund balance,” Ryan said.

The GEA was initially introduced as a temporary way to cut funding and reduce the $10 billion New York State budget deficit in 2010. Since then, CV-S has lost nearly $2.2 million in state aid, Ryan said.

If the taxes increase by two percent, taxes will go up $24 for a homeowner with a home worth $100,000. If taxes increase by 2.92 percent, then that same homeowner will see an increase of $35 dollars in their taxes. If the school taxes increase to 3.96 percent, taxes go up $47 for a person owning a home worth $100,000. 

The state has to realize that small rural districts like CV-S are in trouble financially, Ryan said.

“We can kind of muddle through this year, but things are going to be extremely rough in the next few years if things don’t change,” Ryan said.

Change may mean taxpayers have to pay more in school tax or that the state gives more aid to districts like CV-S.

Ryan said he would have more detailed numbers by the next BOE meeting on March 20.