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St. Lawrence Central looking at preliminary $633,758 gap in draft 2013-14 budget

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BRASHER FALLS - St. Lawrence Central School Superintendent Stephen M. Putman says they’ve cut to the bone during the past three budget seasons, and their preliminary look at projected revenues and expenditures in their 2013-14 budget means they’ll have to slice even deeper.

In a presentation to the district’s board of education Wednesday night, Mr. Putman said that, based on their current early projections they could be looking at an estimated shortfall of $633,758.

“I have concerns as we look ahead to next year. There are some significant challenges there. My concern is we have cut and cut and cut over the last three years, and this is going to be significant challenge,” he said.

All of the district’s contracts are up at the end of the year, according to Mr. Putman, who said he has penciled 2 percent salary increases into the budget draft. That equates to $125,400.

The district is also facing significant increases in their Teacher Retirement System and Employee Retirement System contributions, the superintendent said.

“We’ve already been told our TRS contribution will go from 11.8 (percent) to between 15.5 and 16.5 (percent). We chose the middle number, 16 (percent),” Mr. Putman said.

That’s an increase of $224,670, he said.

Contributions to the Employee Retirement System are projected to increase from 18.9 percent to 20.9 percent, a jump of $42,554.

“They’re already really high,” Mr. Putman told board members.

Health insurance costs are also on the rise to the tune of 9.5 percent, which translates to a $351,000 increase.

Mr. Putman said he’s also making an assumption that they’ll see a 3 percent increase in their costs for using the services of the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services. That’s an increase of $75,000.

All totalled, he said their projected 2013-14 budget is $19,670,620, a net increase of $818,624 over their 2012-13 spending plan of $18.9 million.

“Those are just five areas we don’t have any control over,” he said.

On the flip side, Mr. Putman said their current revenue is $18.5 million. They’re assuming the district will receive a 3 percent increase - or $377,390 - increase in state aid, and a 3 percent increase - or $133,714 - in property taxes. That would give them estimated revenues of $19,036,862, or $633,758 below their projected expenditures.

Mr. Putman said, based on cuts they’ve made over the past three years, it will be difficult to find areas where more cuts can be made again next year. Last year’s budget eliminated three positions - a teacher’s assistant post and realignment of teachers in the elementary school that equated to two position cuts.

Prior to crafting last year’s budget, the district had already cut 23.2 positions in two years. Those include one social studies teacher, 1.4 elementary teachers, two science teachers, a 0.33 Spanish teacher, one English teacher, a 0.4 art teacher, 1.33 special education teachers, a 0.33 business teacher, 2.5 teacher aides,1.4 teaching assistants and one administrator.

Other cuts included a 0.5 maintenance worker, 2.5 cleaners, one bus driver, one nurse and a 0.5 technology coordinator.

Besides personnel cuts, there were also reductions to some school programs, such as the elimination of the grades seven and eight class advisers and the cutting of most junior varsity athletic teams. The Outing Club, Students Against Drunk Driving and Students for Environmental Awareness groups were also eliminated.

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