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General Brown schools seek solutions for $1.6 million shortfall

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DEXTER — The General Brown Central School District Board of Education is only a month into its 2013-14 budget development process and already faces a $1.6 million deficit.

Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr. said half of that is from bullet aid that’s run out and use of reserves for the Teacher Retirement System, while the other half comes from an increase in expenses.

“Obviously, with the governor’s budget, nothing has changed, as far as revenues,” Mr. Vigliotti said during the board’s monthly meeting Monday. “Ultimately, we’ve lost $5.3 million in the last three years in state aid. We’ve never had cuts we’re looking at this year — never.”

Mr. Vigliotti said he plans to meet with state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, to request support for the district, particularly when it comes to $203 million in a fiscal stabilization fund that’s supposed to be used as “one-time financial relief” to districts facing extraordinary increases in fixed costs, including pension contributions. That money was earmarked in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2013-14 budget.

Mr. Vigliotti said some districts have not had cuts as severe as General Brown, while the district will most likely again face a double-digit decline in work force and a continued expense reduction. In the last three years, the district has eliminated 29 positions.

Looking at cutting costs, board members were provided Monday with a list of school vendors with annual contracts. Mr. Vigliotti said the district might see a savings with a few vendors if requests for proposals were again sent out for those services.

To further help the planning process, board member Daniel J. Dupee II requested a projection of the district’s year-end cash flow.

Meanwhile, Mr. Vigliotti said there’s some confusion about the 2 percent tax cap because with several exclusions, General Brown could raise taxes 5.3 percent.

Board member Michael E. Kucharski asked Mr. Vigliotti what the district’s strategy for explaining that to the public would be, to which Mr. Vigliotti said that information has been provided at the district’s budget advisory committee meetings.

“The real question is whether the board feels it’d be supported or not,” Mr. Vigliotti said.

With the added fiscal challenges the district faces, board members will receive guidance from Superintendent Jack J. Boak of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services during their March 25 meeting regarding merger possibilities.

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