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January 17, 2013

Schools facing financial insolvency

Local administrators talk about tough road ahead

The “fiscal cliff” for many school districts is fast approaching — at least that is what Milford Central School Superintendent Peter Livshin is predicting.

According to Livshin, MCS will need to explore some long-term options if the district is going to survive as an independent entity. Developing a budget is going to be very challenging, he said.

“First,” he said, “the state’s 2 percent tax cap will be in its second year. Second, money, once again will be tight coming from Albany. Third, our expenses are significant with steep rises in the pension costs.”

According to Livshin, MCS has done a good job maintaining programming and keeping it affordable, but he feels those days are coming to an end.

MCS is far from being alone.

Cooperstown Central School Superintendent C.J. Hebert said there has been a great deal of discussion about what is going to happen to school districts that are facing financial insolvency.

“Really, the state has no more resources to draw upon,” he said. “While the Legislature, on a yearly basis, tries to fight for additional aid for schools, there are all kinds of needs from hospitals to other municipalities that are really competing for the same dollar.”

Hebert said it is forcing schools and all municipal entities to reconsider the ways they do business.

“We have had several discussions throughout the BOCES district about possible collaborations and ways of sharing services,” he said.

Milford and Cooperstown already share a cafeteria manager.

“That has been working out very well,” Hebert said. “I would expect to see a lot more of those types of sharing arrangements initiated going forward.”

Livshin said he eventually plans to get together with Hebert and Cherry Valley-Springfield Superintendent Robert Miller to talk about possibly working together to meet transportation needs.

Other things Milford is looking to do is use the district’s two distance learning rooms more. According to Livshin, MCS’ treasurer Linda Wenz will be retiring, and the district will be looking into the possibility of sharing a business manager with Charlotte Valley Central School.

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