ELIZABETHTOWN - It's not good, but they are working on it.
While every school board throughout the state of New York is saying just that, the Elizabethtown-Lewis board took time to look at the figures and brainstorm cost-saving ideas at its Feb. 10 meeting.
"It is crazy this year with the money that is coming, or not coming, from the state and federal level," school superintendent Gail Else said. "The people working on the budgets need all the time they can have to make the decisions that will be needed to be made."
Under the proposed executive budget of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the ELCS district stands to lose $393,902 in state aid and an additional $111,806 in federal stimulus funding, which is running out after a two-year program.
Overall, the cuts lead to a 15.04-percent tax levy increase without adding or subtracting anything else from the current school budget.
"We are not saying that this is what the tax levy increase will be," Else said. "We are saying that, if we did not spend one more dime than we did last year, this is the situation that we find ourselves in. We are in a dire situation financially, as are a lot of schools."
"We just wanted to show how the revenues would affect the budget at this point," business manager Cindy Moody said.
"We are looking at a levy increase of over 15-percent just with the losses in revenue," board president Bob Wagner said. "We may not have everything at our March meeting, but we should have some kind of accurate if not fully realistic picture that we can work even more with."
"This is not even looking at the items in the budget that will have to go up this year," board member Brett Sicola said.
Else said the school is still looking at early options and getting advice and opinions from all sides.
"We still have to gather a lot of information," Else said. "We are currently negotiating with the teachers on what they see for the coming year, and BOCES is a big chunk of the budget and one where you have to allow for some elbow room."
"All the constituents need to write down their suggestions to tell us where they are willing to give and what they need in the budget," board member Karen Hooper said. "All the ideas that we get will start to add up eventually."
Else said the school would start with a pure roll-over budget and see where they needed to go from there.
"It's not a wonderful picture for us, but it is far better then some of my colleagues are looking at," she said.