Although the Southern Cayuga Central School District has a projected budget gap of $366,866, Superintendent Patrick Jensen believes the shortage is manageable.
He said at a recent school board meeting the district can manage the budget with a combination of program reorganization, staff and operational cuts, use of the fund balance and increasing the tax levy. He made recommendations to the board in a budget presentation.
The current budget is $15,796,008, he said, with a proposed budget for 2013-14 of $15,936,008, a 0.89 percent increase.
The district is expecting expenses to increase $506,866 due to significant cost increases for 2013-14 in retirement, up $188,836,salary and benefits, up $292,867, and fuel increases, up $25,163.
State aid is expected to be $140,000, and reduce the budget shortage to $366,866.
"We feel pretty confident with our numbers at this time," Jensen said. "We appreciate the increase in state aid because it begins to make up the gap ... It does drive down the necessary cuts in order to be fiscally sound."
To counteract the remaining gap, Jensen presented options to the board, including cutting positions.
He proposed reducing a full-time science teacher to half time; eliminating a technology teacher who is already half-time; and eliminating one full-time business teacher. Among all the salary, benefits and health insurance that would be eliminated from the budget, the total savings from these proposed cuts would be $152,545, according to Jensen's presentation.
"We're proposing (the cuts)," he said. "We're awaiting board response. The process takes time. It was just the initial presentation."
He also noted that almost 30 positions have been cut in the last three years.
The district has also been taking a close look at current course offerings and enrollment, especially enrollment in electives. Electives with low enrollment will be scrutinized for possible reductions, Jensen said. Students have been given surveys to help determine their interests.
"Hopefully we'll be able to better serve our students in the future," Jensen said.
Jensen laid out three scenarios for a tax levy increase for the board, noting that 1 percent of the levy equals $73,000.
• Increasing the levy 2 percent ($146,000), doing the staff cuts and cutting $68,321 in operational costs would close the gap.
• Increasing the levy 2.75 percent ($200,750), doing the same staff cuts and cutting $13,571 in operational costs would also close the gap.
• Increasing the levy 3.48 percent ($254,040), doing the same staff cuts and cutting nothing from operational costs would result in a small surplus of $39,719.