two thousand twenty
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By John Addyman

   CLYDE (Mar 23 11) – Having piled up all the “big rocks,” the Clyde-Savannah school board reviewed a proposed budget, as it stands, of $16.8 million for the 2011-12 school year (down from $17.3 million this year).
   That budget includes a 2% tax levy increase, $275,000 in savings expected by closing the Savannah Elementary school, $726,000 in staff cuts (6.2 teachers, a nurse, an administrator, two aides, a clerk, a custodian and a cleaner), and use of $300,000 in fund balance and two reserve fund accounts.
   Schools Superintendent Theresa Pulos told the board the brunt of the work had been done with all the “big Rocks” savings in hand, “and as far away from students as possible.” The board will vote on the final proposed budget on April 13. 

   The budget process started with a $2.39 million difference between expenditures and revenues. In the “big rocks” savings categories, the new budget saves $360,000 by taking back some programs from BOCES and hosting them in Clyde. Dr. Pulos promised the district would “maintain appropriate resources for students,” including those who might be added to the special-classes rosters later on.
   Some $120,000 is saved in parings from athletics programs (no coach will be hired if a sport doesn’t draw enough athletes to field a team), transportation (fewer routes back and forth to Savannah), summer hours (fewer professionals working in schools over the summer), and operations and maintenance (new, less expensive vendors for contracted services).
    Dr. Pulos said elementary-school class size was retained, as were Art, Music and Phys Ed programs, but with some reductions. Some Business and Technology electives were retained, “and we maintained as much technology and technology support as we could.” Full-day Kindergarten, intervention services and professional development were also spared the axe.
   Board President Patrick Crowe and resident Andy Cushman were concerned about Clyde’s athletic teams having competition with so many other school districts making deep cuts.
   Dr. Pulos said it was possible that some teams might not have a jayvee program, with the school fielding a modified team instead. “It will be an enrollment-based decision that won’t affect every sport.” She added that athletic directors from all the Finger Lakes League schools are working overtime to make sure teams, once formed, have competition, but added that some schools may plan to have a certain team, then back out. “It’s going to be a very fluid situation,” she said.
   All of the staff reductions are enrollment-based, Dr. Pulos said.
   Next year, that won’t be the case, and the district is already looking at a $1 million in higher costs from just three categories -- $300,000 more in salaries, $400,000 in benefits and a loss of $250,000 in federal jobs funding. She warned that the programs retained mostly intact this year will be targets for cuts next year, with the non-mandated programs like Art, Music, athletics, extra-curricular activities and Kindergarten in the middle of the bulls-eye.
   “That will be a very different discussion,” Dr. Pulos warned.
   Cushman, from the audience, asked, “Are we going to tap our fund reserves year after year? Will the tax levy go up year after year?
   “We don’t know yet,” said Dr. Pulos.
   “Aren’t you prolonging the inevitable?” asked Cushman. “The inevitable that next year Art, Music will be cut?”
   “Our goal is to provide the best program we can,” said Dr. Pulos. “I would not like to think about taking out Art and Music and Phys Ed unless we absolutely have to. It hurts kids. If it comes to that, we will have to have a serious discussion with the community about what it values in its school program. I am concerned about getting to a point where the educational program disadvantages kids more than where they live.”
   Crowe took a positive tack. “We face this $1 million gap every year. We’ve been able to weather the storm. Do we see a light at the end of the tunnel? Yes. We have hope. People in this community have been good to us and support us.”
   Board Member Bob Montemorano felt that with the area districts having their backs to the wall, innovation will flower “from little old Wayne County. We’re under duress here more than anywhere else. We have great superintendents. Great educators. People under duress will bring about change in public education.”
   “I think we’ll see education delivered differently in the small districts here and it will sweep across the country,” added Board Member Dick Drahms.
   Dr. Pulos was asked about the closing of Savannah Elementary: what are the plans?
   “That’s my next job,” she said. “We would like to entertain some educational use for the space. It’s in such a unique area. We want to start discussions and find the best use for it, for the community and school district.”


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