JOHNSBURG - The Johnsburg Central School (JCS) Board voted unanimously to adopt the proposed 2010-2011 budget last Thursday, but not without plenty of community response.
The regularly scheduled board meeting on last Tuesday welcomed community attendance and comments. After two hours of discussion, the topic was tabled and picked up again at the second special meeting.
JCS will see a 1 percent budget increase, which translates to a 5-6 percent tax levy increase.
Superintendent Mike Markwika acknowledged that budgets are getting increasingly difficult to craft.
"In times like these, we are forced to either cut staff and programs or raise taxes," Markwika said.
Johnsburg Central School will lose an anticipated $273,239 in state aid next year, according to Gov. David Paterson's state budget proposal.
"Our goal is to provide the best education with reasonable costs," said Business Manager Kathy Spring. "Unfortunately, the economic situation doesn't allow us to continue to offer what we once did and we are faced with difficult choices."
The budget committee made several cuts at JCS including not replacing a retired elementary teacher and a teacher's aid through attrition. They have also rearranged their typing and AIS programs in order to eliminate the position.
Aside from cuts, JCS included a new pre-kindergarten program in next year's budget with a cost of $70,000.
"The goal of the program is to offer a Cricket-like program and that will cost," said board member Erwin Morris.
Also, in last week's meeting the administration at JCS agreed to take a one year pay freeze, while the teachers declined the same freeze.
The Johnsburg community was grateful for an opportunity to discuss the budget and commended the board on such action. Some were, however, critical.
"We need to get ahead of the problem rather than limp into the next year hoping things will get better," said North Creek resident Anthony Moro.
JCS's budget is a solid 15-19 percent higher per capita than local school of comparable size. This was one of Moro's biggest concerns.
"Research needs to be done to see how we can bring these numbers down," he said. "We should learn from the success of the schools around us."
Other community members who attended the meeting were concerned with the student/teacher ratio at JCS. With 350 students, the school employs 43 teachers and 63 total staff members. Many said that is excessive.
Community members have mobilized and will continue to voice their budget concerns until they go to the polls.
The public is welcome to attend a budget presentation, which will take place on May 10 at JCS and the budget will go to a vote on May 18.