Budget talks continue in Mohonasen school district

At the Monday, March 23, Mohonasen Central School District budget workshop, Superintendent Kathleen Spring announced that the budget is still up in the air because school officials haven't heard whether or not the $1.5 million budget deficit will be restored by state aid.

For each portion of the budget discussion, which touched on staffing, instruction and employee benefits, there were two scenarios presented: one where the budget is restored and one where it isn't.

"As you know, we're hearing different things from the state about cuts," said Spring. "Every day there's a different story, and typically we present this part of the budget earlier than tonight, but we were hoping that we would have more concrete information than we do now."

According to the district's Web site, federal stimulus money would come in two forms: grant funding and stabilization funding. The stabilization funding would be for restoring proposed state cuts to education.

"We haven't had one piece of information saying, 'OK Mohonasen, this is how much money you're going to get,' so that has put us in a place where it's hard to put the budget together," said Spring.

She said that if they receive this aid, there are a number of strings attached.

"We're not sure how the monies can be used because of those strings," she said. "One of the things we keep hearing is, 'OK, you'll get this money for two years, but watch out for the cliff " you might fall off of it.'"

She said that scenario can present a challenge when putting the budget together.

When discussing the elements of the proposed budget, Spring said that one of the things the district does every year is analyze staffing needs.

"We reconfigure when necessary," she said.

If the $1.5 million budget deficit is not restored, she said, 22.3 positions will be eliminated from the school district, which currently employs 550 people. Those possibilities include administrative positions, such as a full-time human resources position, the part-time social studies academic administrator, and the full-time central registrar position. From the district's support staff, one custodian and one tech position, both fulltime, would be eliminated, as well as a part-time maintenance worker. Between three and five aides and assistants would also be laid off. One full-time high school math teacher would be laid off, as well as two full-time sixth grade teachers. Those reductions would save the district $1,095,628.

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