JOHNSBURG - Nearly every chair in the Johnsburg Central School (JCS) cafetorium was home to a body on Tuesday evening as the JCS school board addressed the issue of their recently failed budget.
At the conclusion, the board voted to approve its proposed contingency budget for the 2010-2011 school year.
On May 18, the proposed budget failed by a margin of 264-408. That budget proposed a .95 percent spending increase and a 4-5 percent tax levy increase.
The increases were met with much community opposition over the past several weeks. A citizens budget committee formed to protest tax increases with members including Bruce Ashline, Pat Cunningham, David Braley, George Heim, Sally Heidrich, Bert Miner, Tony Moro, Susan Murante, Margaret Prashaw, Carol Richards and Richard Stewart.
The contingency plan includes and $10,062,415 total budget, which translates to a .67 percent or $67,153 increase from the 2009-2010 budget. These changes present a 3.5-4.5 percent tax levy increase to $5,918,217.
During Tuesday's meeting, the board presented three options including putting the original proposed budget back up to vote, putting an amended budget that would have included significant personnel and program cuts to a vote or approving the proposed contingency budget.
"We have received many request to put the original budget back up to vote," said Superintendent Mike Markwica.
The contingency budget, however, was approved unanimously, but not without considerable conversation.
"We weighed the long term effects of the budget against our mission statement, dedicated to providing an excellent education as well as our financial responsibility," said board president, William Conner.
The contingency budget was still met with some opposition concerning the overall cost and specific concerns including the proposed pre-k program.
"We need to know how the contingency budget solves the problems of the first proposed budget," said Moro.
Many community members attended the meeting to simply demand more information on the proposed budgets.
"We all need to get on the same page," said David Braley. "We must figure out a way to provide a good education while being fiscally responsible."
"All we ask is that you listen and work with us," said Richard Stewart to the JCS board.
Many rows of seating were filled with JCS students, who attended the meeting in support of the education that they feel they receive.
"We will lose opportunities through funding cuts," said senior Kelsey Williford.
Junior Ben Richards made the point that many schools of similar size have cut their budgets to an "affordable" amount. "Students from all over this region pay to come to JCS because of what we offer," he said.
Community members turned out to also support the board in their budget efforts.
"The board has done an admirable job," said John Slayback. "And all they have got in return is criticism."
Members of the board thanked the community for their concern and their input.
"We thank the people who showed, up for or against, and we want them to know that we are going to take their comments into consideration," said board member Mark Richards.