Non-teaching jobs cut to trim MCS budget

By Pauline Liu
Two-and-a-half non-teaching jobs have been cut from Margaretville Central School District’s new $10.4 million budget, which also includes a 2.04 percent tax levy increase.  An additional position will be eliminated through retirement. 

The MCS Board of Education unanimously approved the 2012-13 budget at a meeting on Monday night. The new budget calls for a two-tenths-of-one percent increase or a $20,954 increase in spending over last year’s budget.

Some members acknowledged the tough choices that were made.

“It’s painful for me to think this budget is going to cause job loss to this district,” said School Board Member Barbara Funck. “This is the first time we’ve had to make these cuts and it hurts.”

According to School Superintendent Tony Albanese, the eliminated jobs are as follows: a full-time teacher’s aide position, a front-door monitor’s job, a day-time custodian, who also drives a school bus and will remain on part-time as a school bus driver and the senior library clerk.

Albanese explained that the senior library clerk position held by longtime employee Carol Johnson will be eliminated, when she retires at the end of the school year. However, all student programs will remain intact along with the staff of 47.5 teachers.

Difficult times
Albanese explained that these are hard financial times for the school with about 400 students as it faces reduced state aid and declining enrollment. “We’re here for our students,” said Albanese. “That’s why we made some difficult decisions to support our student programs.”

The district’s 2.04 percent tax levy increase, actually complies with the new state mandated two-percent property tax cap, which is calculated according to a multi-step formula from the Office of the State Comptroller. To prevent the school district from exceeding the tax cap, the school board members trimmed more than $299,000 from its initial budget projections, which were made back in December.  “In my 28 years, this was the most difficult one (budget),” said District Treasurer Karen Dietrich.

Among the changes taking place for the next school year, the two sixth-grade classes will be combined into one section. Albanese explained that the plan will free up teachers to spend more time helping students who need Academic Intervention Services (AIS) in order to meet learning standards.

As part of the federally mandated Race to the Top Program, MCS will be working with a staff developer from BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services), who will assist teachers in evaluating students. BOCES will also be sponsoring a pre-engineering program, which MCS students may attend.

In other news, the school’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten will become a full-day class next year.  “It will give our students more opportunity for learning and socializing,” said Albanese.

A public hearing on the district’s 2012-’13 budget will be held at MCS on Monday, May 7 at 7 p.m.  School district voters across the state will be asked to go to the polls on Tuesday, May 15 to cast their budget votes. MCS District voters will also be asked to elect a new school board member to replace Robbie Martin, who’s additional one-year term ended Monday night. For more information about the new budget, log onto margaretvillecs.org.