Good financial news received for North Collins School District
The North Collins School Board received some positive financial news at its April 3 meeting.
The first, that the recent fundraiser launched by Tammy Winter to restart the JV Boys Baseball and Girls Softball program had brought in $9,600. An additional $100 was also received from Fox Construction. The board accepted both with appreication. Both teams are already on the field.
Superintendent Benjamin Halsey also reported that the recent additional funding to schools from New York State amounts to $68,000. The increase, along with additional reviews and projections, led Halsey to revise his proposed superintendent’s budget reducing the amounts to be taken from reserves and resulting in a budget that is $210,826 less than the current budget while maintaining current programs.
Halsey also noted that this budget reflects a combined drop of $500,000 over the past two years.
An executive session was also held, presumably to discuss the outcome of Halsey’s discussion with the teacher’s union in investigating any concessions they might be willing to offer. The teachers’ contract with the district expires at the end of this school year. No announcement of any concessions was presented. However, Board Member David Gier did note that “It is unfortunate that the stake holders in the system have not been willing to make concessions.”
Responding to a request from the board, Principal Annie Metcalf reported on the impact to North Collins Jr. and Sr. High programming if all the .7 (part-time) instructor positions were cut. At the outset the .7 instructors in industrial technology and physical education could not be cut since the courses are state-mandated. A cut in the science department would not allow all mandated courses to be taught. In social studies it would mean the elimination of eighth grade honors and twelfth grade election. Global 1 honors would be eliminated at at least one teacher would have to be moved to a new curriculum. In the math department, AP Calculus and an advanced individual study period would be cut.
There would be no ability to advanced seventh grade students and middle school classes would be divided among and between teachers. In English the tenth grade honors program would disappear along with the TV production and journalism classes. Advanced English, an ECC college credit course, would also be gone, as would English 9 honors that was just reestablished.
In addition to the course cuts, the resulting schedule would leave no teachers free to schedule for study hall or supervision duty, duties Metcalf called “absolutely necessary for a safe school.” She also noted that her projections are based on the fall schedule falling into perfect order. She said it was highly unlikely it would and that as many as two additional periods might be needed in each content area to cover shifting classes.
Metcalf concluded that the cuts to high level classes would be devastating to many of the district’s students, families and would affect their college applications.
Gier noted that the savings from cutting the .7 positions would amount to $112,000, a figure he called “insignificant to a $14 million budget.”
Halsey assured the board again that the district’s reserves are healthy and will remain so into the future. “We are in a position where we have the money. We have the ability to protect our programs and staffing,” he said and added that the district could, with cautious budgeting, weather tight budgets for the next five years.
Halsey did remind the board that a proposed budget to submit to the public must be in place no later than the board’s next meeting, which was April 17.
Gier observed that the board could adopt the current superintendent’s budget, but still enact cuts or find additional savings after a budget has been approved.
Halsey, noting the concerns of the board in utilizing large portions of the reserve funds offered this take: “We can be uncomfortable reducing staff and programs that have proved themselves, or we can be uncomfortable sending our money out the door.”