Community forum addresses Cuomo's proposed budget
Mohonasen's first community budget forum was a little hazy on what the district would be facing, but with the Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget released the picture might have become clearer the task is more daunting.
Mohonasen Central School District Superintendent Kathleen Spring gave an update on the budget process during the second community budget forum on Tuesday, Feb. 15, which had her presentation coinciding with statements made by the governor about his budget and schools tightening their belts. Spring also noted the district has the eighth lowest per-pupil cost out of all districts in the state according to the most recent data for the 2008-2009 school year.
I would contend that we don't have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem, said Spring. "We are very realistic when put our budgets together."
State aid to the district is planned to drop by 13 percent for the district, or $4,499,257, which leaves the district having to cut $2.8 million to reach to reach a 2 percent tax increase coinciding with the proposed tax cap. Also, a 3 percent tax increase would require cutting almost $2.65 million.
Overall, Spring didn't seem to agree with the governor's budget presentation and felt it was misleading to the public.
"The way [the governor's] budget was presented, it perpetuates the misinformation about schools," said Spring. "There is definitely no quick fix, but these aid cuts are really deep, they are extremely deep, and when I keep saying 'unprecedented' I really mean that. We are going to be talking about things in this district that none of us ever thought we would have to consider."
Now, more than previous years, the dollar values of programs and services that aren't mandated are starting to shape what the district will be offering moving forward. When community members broke into groups there were discussions on what non-mandated reductions should be made and also what shouldn't face reductions.