District News

Community to weigh 2010-11 budget

 

Canajoharie Central School District residents will vote May 18 on a proposed $18,894,140 budget for the 2010-11 school year.

This is a difficult year to develop a budget. New York State’s fiscal problems have seriously impacted school districts such as Canajoharie which are heavily dependent on the State for revenue. Regardless of the State’s fiscal woes, the Board of Education is committed to presenting a budget to district residents that does not ask them to shoulder the entire burden caused by the loss of revenue. In addition, the proposed budget must favorably position the district to address yet further cuts in school aid when federal stimulus monies expire in 2011-12. The proposed budget outlined in this newsletter does just that while preserving the foundation of our educational programs.

The proposed budget is an increase of .48 percent over the 2009-10 budget. The impact on the tax levy is hard to predict at this time because we do not know if the state legislature will restore any of the $428,651 in aid cuts, nor will we know how much fund balance we will have at the end of the fiscal year to apply against taxes. We can say this with confidence. The tax levy will not increase by more than 4.0 percent. Hopefully, it will be less. The district will leave no stone unturned in searching for savings and efficiencies while maintaining the best programs for our children.

Questions and Answers

Q. How is the school district doing in the recession?

A. Three years ago, our district faced a $651,000 deficit. At that time, we embarked on a course to return to fiscal security. Over the next two years, that deficit fell to $312,000, then to $80,000. This year, we expect to have a fund balance.
The cuts we made, the taxes you paid, and the policies we followed now leave us in a better position to address the problems that currently face all school districts.

 

Q. Are there staff reductions in the proposed budget?

A. Slightly less than three positions are eliminated in the budget. Reorganizing staff and shuffling responsibilities results in one middle school teacher being laid off.

One elementary teaching position has been eliminated. As a consequence, next year’s third grade will have three sections instead of four.

A half-time BOCES Home & Careers position in the middle school will be eliminated. That class will be taught by current staff.

A half-time remedial education position in the elementary school will be eliminated. Again, existing staff will fill the role.

A one-day-per-week BOCES guidance counselor in the high school will be eliminated. Staff from Catholic Charities will provide some of those services.
These changes do not reflect the possibility of teacher retirements. Should the retirements come in the appropriate areas, these cuts would not result in people losing their jobs.

 

Q. What other cost-saving measures have been taken?

A. Canajoharie contracted with the central business office at ONC BOCES to handle routine business functions such as payroll, bills, and bookkeeping. This consolidation of services saves the district about $150,000 each year.

The district continues leasing buses instead of purchasing them. This will save $200,000 over the next five years.

Canajoharie buys energy, supplies, and services jointly with other school districts and municipalities to secure better pricing.

Our schools reduced field trips and froze all unnecessary spending.

The district is exploring every opportunity to save money and reduce expenses.

 

Q. How will the proposed budget impact taxes?

A. The proposed budget will increase the overall tax levy by no more than 4.0 percent. Property tax rates will vary among the eight townships in the district based on assessments and equalization rates.

 

Q. Does this mean my taxes will go up four percent?

A. Not necessarily. Many things will impact our tax levy making it hard to project a definite figure. Accordingly, we project “no more than four percent” as the worst-case scenario with hopes that the increase will be less. At this point, the legislature is considering returning some of the state aid that was cut in the governor’s proposed budget. As the end of the fiscal year approaches, we will have a clearer picture of our fund balance. In addition we have new properties that will begin paying a full share of property taxes. Funds from any of these sources could lessen the tax burden.

If the cost of living is not rising, why are taxes increasing at all?

If we had received the same amount of State aid as we did in the past, we would not have to raise taxes. But, we lost aid and certain expenses rose despite the economy. On their own, these increases would result in a significantly higher budget if not offset by steps to reduce staff and expenses.

Q. What happened to the federal stimulus money?

A. We received our federal stimulus money as promised in 2009-10. Unfortunately, the state’s fiscal problems forced it to use a portion of the 2010-11 fiscal funds to avoid making mid-year cuts to our promised aid. As a result, there is less federal money available for 2010-11

 

Q. What are we getting for our investment?

A. We continue to be an area leader. Our test scores are among the top in the region. Our students are accepted into some of the nation’s finest universities. Our school continues to be recognized for its art, music, and athletic programs.

 

Q. What happens in the future?

A. The future remains a challenge. We cannot expect any increases in government funding. In fact, we anticipate operating with less state aid than we received three years ago. Over the next year, we will continue our efforts to contain costs, improve efficiencies, and look for new ways to provide the quality of education we have come to expect in Canajoharie. The road ahead is uncertain and is likely to be rocky. With the same commitment and support that helped us to this point, however, we will come out the other side of this recession stronger and better prepared to tackle our most important challenge—to prepare today’s children to become tomorrow’s leaders.

View the district's budget document