Possible cuts, pay freeze pitched

Mohon draft budget includes 43 instructional position cuts, pay freeze requested for unions

Mohonasen students might have been enjoying a snow day on Monday, March 7, but district officials were hard at work, plowing through tough fiscal decisions as they worked toward a 2011-12 budget.

The first of three Mohonasen Central School District budget presentations unveiled the proposed cuts for general support, operations and maintenance, transportation, athletics and co-curricular activities. More details will follow at the second presentation on Tuesday, March 22, but instructional cuts the biggest issue with most parents won't be detailed until the third presentation on April 4.

After the March 7 meeting, Superintendent Kathleen Spring said the district is faced with potentially cutting 43 full-time equivalent instructional positions, 10 FTE support staff members and two and a half FTE administration positions.

"We choose to keep instruction as the last component, because that is where we are seeing the most significant potential reduction," said Spring. "This is still a work in progress. We have tried to incorporate some of the things that we've heard during the budget forums from the community into this first presentation."

At the forums, community members addressed values and priorities, so areas for potential cuts or to remain fully funded help Spring develop the proposed budget. The state budget, if adopted on time, would be set April 1, which could affect the final district budget scheduled for adoption on April 11. Spring said the district is still hoping for some additional revenue from the state, but the possibility isn't looking too promising.

The district is looking at a $2.9 million budget gap with a reduction in state aid totaling 13.8 percent, which is almost double the average statewide cut of 7.2 percent. Spring continued to tout the district is the seventh lowest per pupil cost in the state according to the most recent data, which means there isn't much "padding" to easily keep programs intact.

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