two thousand twenty
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By John Addyman

   LYONS (APR 13 11) – The Lyons school board unanimously adopted an $18.7 million budget last night, completing a process that leaves future funding for similar budgets much in question.
   “In terms of our Lyons program for kids, we’re okay,” said Schools Superintendent Rick Amundsen. “In terms of the money, we’re on an unsustainable path. We can’t keep doing what we’re doing – the numbers are really clear, and Lyons is no different than any of the districts around us, high-need school districts that require substantial state aid.”

   The Lyons board and administration started with a $19.5 million “rollover” budget, one which basically carried all programs and staff from last year forward. “Then we cut out any surplus whatever,” said Amundsen, “to reach our ‘refined’ budget of $19.1 million.”
   When the state decided to take money away from school districts, Lyons lost $1.2 million in funding, and the board and administration came up with a three-prong approach to close the resulting $1.13 million gap between expenses and revenue – use a small tax increase, tap some of the reserve funds, and make cost reductions.
   As discussions continued, the board asked Amundsen and his staff to make $563,000 in cuts. He recommended a tax increase of 1.7% -- average for the last five years. The amount that remained to be withdrawn from the reserve funds was pegged at $610,000, even after a $73,000 additional bone was thrown from the state after the Albany budget was passed.
   The cuts include staff reductions – half a music teacher, three elementary teachers, a .4 phys ed position, a .4 Art position, an aide, half an English teacher, half a Spanish teacher, and a Reading teacher. Retirements and attrition added half a science teacher, a .25 supervision position, one bus driver, and a teacher substitute for the librarian.
   Lyons also backed out of its association with the Community Center. “Two years ago we paid $45,000 to use it all day long and in the evening. We stopped the daytime relationship last year,” said Amundsen. “Now, we’re not going to be funding gym time there to play athletic contests or for practices. We felt this was a necessary thing to do when we’re laying off people.”
   Because there aren’t enough kids out for the sport, the jayvee girls’ soccer program will be cut next year. Winter jayvee cheerleading is another projected cut. Amundsen said athletic directors from the Wayne County League will use a “pod” system for modified sports schedules, ensuring that team travel is minimized.
   Minor savings ($2,500) were also realized in budgeting the actual hours of the nurse practitioner, in removing the foster grandparents mileage subsidy ($3,000), and in eliminating the staff subsidy for using the fitness room.
   This year’s budget was $18,747,452. Next year’s budget will be $18,716,563 – a $30,889 reduction.
   Amundsen valued the unanimous adoption by the school board. “I think the budget process was very positive,” he said. “What we’re seeing is that there are stages you go through as a board and a school district. Last year was the first year anyone lost their job by layoff. That’s been unheard of. Previously, you reduced staff through retirements, mainly.
   “What I’m finding, if you examine the districts around the area, is that the first time they go through the layoff process, people don’t understand because it hasn’t happened around here in a long time. This year, it wasn’t the same conversation because we’ve been through this for a couple of years. People are paying attention earlier. We asked teachers to come to the budget meetings and they did. We feel better in terms of people being in tune with the process.”
   That doesn’t mean the means or the end were pleasurable. “We still think we’re being presented with lots of choices we wish we hadn’t been presented with because of the reduction in state aid. It’s very much not a fun thing to do as a school board and superintendent. We’ve tried to be responsive to the children of the district and to the taxpayers in Lyons.”
   Amundsen warned that a different conversation may occur next year at this time because the district also used a Projected $600,000 in projected general fund surplus to help fund next year’s budget. The “refined” budget adopted has no fat, no built-in surplus.
   “When this (coming) budget year is done, unless something happens that we don’t expect, we won’t have any money left over to put into reserves – that’s the dangerous thing about what we’re doing now.
   “Our program is a good, solid, somewhat fundamental program. We don’t have a lot of extra things for kids: this is not a suburban school district. If we were in a different spot (financially), we’d like to be building our program; instead, we’re maintaining it…nd in some cases, tearing it down a little,” Amundsen said.
   “The worry I have is that if things don’t correct themselves, we will have to cut into sports and electives and Music and Art – things we’re not mandated to offer, that we don’t have to do.”


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  1. Anonymous Said,

    G.E.--in addition to paying no income tax on $5.1 billion in U.S. profits--received a $3.2 billion tax refund from the government. Given the country's sour fiscal condition, the company's big refund sparked a fresh round of calls to end large-scale tax breaks for corporations--and for the rich more broadly--as the best way to shrink the deficit.


    Posted on Thu Apr 14, 12:51:00 PM EDT

  2. Anonymous Said,

    HMMMMMM How many things can you blame on GE.

    Posted on Thu Apr 14, 02:47:00 PM EDT

  3. Anonymous Said,

    I would say with billions of dollars in profit and paying no taxes seems wrong to me.....
    The list of corp that do not pay any taxes is long this just a example.
    Its not just paying taxes they get a refund.

    If you can not see the direct problem here..
    you must be the CEO of GE that got a 240 million dollar bonus this year over his regular pay.

    Posted on Thu Apr 14, 04:20:00 PM EDT

  4. Anonymous Said,

    You know what I like about you? You don't let facts get in the way of a good argument. $240 million dollar bonus, really please tell where you got that info. From what I can find the ceo turned down a bonus for the last two years and this year he got a $4 million bonus. You must be like that senator who said his statemnts weren't meant to be factual. Keep up the good work it is amusing.

    Posted on Thu Apr 14, 09:06:00 PM EDT

  5. Anonymous Said,

    OK I was wrong about the bonus but right about the billions of profit GE made and payed no taxes. In fact got a 3 billion dollar tax refund.

    Example of corrupt tax code. Please copmment on the substance of the issue. Not the relish

    Posted on Fri Apr 15, 05:09:00 PM EDT

  6. Anonymous Said,

    "The substance of the issue. Not the relish" Really? How is anything that GE did or didn't do have a direct impact on the school budget? I think the school budget should even be cut more. The school enrollment has steadily decreased over the last couple of decades but during that time staff has increased not to mention millions and millions of dollars spent on adding class rooms(even though the number of students are decreasing).

    Posted on Fri Apr 15, 07:52:00 PM EDT

  7. Anonymous Said,

    I believe you have some real valid points about decreasing class sizes. Regional high schools seem like a interesting idea for one. I also like more on line learning such as the Khan institute which seems a better idea for individual learning speeds and styles. Creating better results.

    With that said having myopia for the over all tax situation of our nation by only looking at the local level is a simplistic way of viewing our societies problems. Follow the money and you will find most of our money in our society goes to our military and the waste there is impressive. Our tax laws have been corrupted for years by big business lobbyist. The direct link of funding at the federal level to the states for education and other programs is where we should start our conversation; not tearing apart our fellow community member making a decent wage as a professional doing a important job in society.

    Posted on Sat Apr 16, 10:21:00 AM EDT

  8. Anonymous Said,

    The super rich pay a lot less taxes than they did a couple of decades ago, and nearly half of U.S. households pay no income taxes at all.


    Posted on Sun Apr 17, 02:56:00 PM EDT

  9. Anonymous Said,

    So many people think this is a union only issue, and most of them are just plain working people. Yet this really is a class issue, its lower and middle classes versus the ruling class. America is heading to become a two class society where the ruling class (the very small segment of the population that has most of the money and therefore continues to make all the rules, and everyone else who is forced to abide by these rules. This is much more than a labor versus employer issue, this is the very basis of our government, which is technically a blend of Democracy and Representative Republic., yet the average person is no longer represented, nor do we have a real say in what goes on. Only front groups for the ruling class have a say that want to make it seem like the average person has a say.

    Posted on Sun Apr 17, 05:40:00 PM EDT


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