Next week, on Tuesday, May 20 voters in the Cooperstown Central School District will head to the polls to vote on three important issues, the CCS 2014-2015 budget, the election of members of the school board and a resolution for changing the funding of the two pubic libraries located within the school district, namely the Village of Cooperstown Library and the Kinney Memorial Library in Hartwick.
As usual we have taken the time to go through the school budget which has frankly left us pondering several issues. Each year it seems that funding schools in general is becoming more difficult. And Cooperstown would not seem to be an exception. The proposed 2014-2015 budget is $17,755,706, up 2.88 percent from the 2013-2014 budget even though it appears that enrollment is still in decline. The tax levy, the amount that property owners have to pay, is $11,139,043, up 1.71 percent from last year. State aid is up this year 1.16 percent to $5,131,263. But, in order to balance the proposed budget, the amount to be transferred from the school's appropriated fund balance is up 27.82 percent to the almost unbelievable amount of $930,000.
And while it is a good thing that the transfer of such funds is possible for the 2014-2015 budget as it does allow the rather modest increase in the tax levy, there is no guarantee that such funding will be available in the future. Nor would there seem to be any assurances that state aid will increase to any great degree in the future which would make balancing school budgets down the road all that much more difficult.
Added to this is the fact that, from what we see in the budget, there is a decrease in spending for teacher salaries, 2.61 percent less for K to 6 teachers and 3.29 percent for 7 to 12 teachers. We tend to think that such decreases would indicate some sort of a decrease in the size of the faculty, who, we hasten to point out, are the people so directly involved with educating our students. And we do find it interesting $100,717 is being cut from the budget category of "Teaching: regular school" for grades K-12. Yet in the school newsletter we received we found that under the category of "Instruction/Teaching" only $45,271 is being cut. Does this mean that the classroom teachers are taking a bigger hit than other faculty members?