District looks to cut 115 positions

Dave Gymburch
Staff writer
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Posted 3/28/19

Reductions of about 115 staff positions through attrition and potential layoffs, plus a nearly 3 percent spending decrease from the current budget, are part of an updated 2019-20 Rome school district …

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District looks to cut 115 positions

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Reductions of about 115 staff positions through attrition and potential layoffs, plus a nearly 3 percent spending decrease from the current budget, are part of an updated 2019-20 Rome school district budget proposal by Superintendent Peter C. Blake.

The proposal, revised from a March 7 presentation which called for 81 position reductions and a slight rise in spending from the current budget, will be addressed at the Board of Education’s meeting tonight. A video blog of Blake’s updated presentation was posted Wednesday on the district’s website.

Among other items before the board is a resolution to take steps to sell or otherwise transfer the vacant former Fort Stanwix school building.

The board meets at 6:30 p.m. today at Strough Middle School, 801 Laurel St., in the auditorium. On the agenda:

• For the revised budget proposal, Blake’s video blog said “this message is intended to provide...necessary information...relative to an updated budget” and “to help those that can’t attend the board meeting...get the facts and details....”

Among proposed reductions and estimated savings to help balance the budget and offset shortfalls in state financial aid are 47 positions in AIS (academic intervention services), $3.29 million; nine secondary school positions, $772,800; eight elementary school positions, $640,000; seven elementary librarians, $504,000; five instructional coaches, $304,178; three teachers on special assignment, $210,000; two positions in administration, $155,000; five teaching assistants, $152,485; two typists, $48,902; two security positions, $80,000; a nurse-float position, $47,801; a PC specialist, $45,095.

Blake’s blog, citing a total of “roughly 115 positions throughout the district overall, said some of them are “currently open” and would be eliminated. Some others would be removed through attrition such as anticipated retirements, he said, but he also referred to employee notifications due by April 15 regarding future employment with the district; contractual requirements call for notifications of layoffs to be sent to teachers by that date.

The update also calls for a proposed 2019-20 budget totaling $114.67 million, down from the current $117.9
million for 2018-19, whereas the March 7
presentation included a slight increase to $118.95 million for 2019-20.

Among other proposed reductions and savings in the budget update that also had been presented March 7 are all modified sports, $249,312; district expenses of $153,651 for pre-K for 3-year-olds, which would be outsourced to community facilities using grant funding; the Forever Growing pre-school special education program, $1.028 million; transportation for pre-K including for 4-year-olds, $250,000; and all field trips, $45,000, revised from a March 7 proposal for reductions at a savings of $21,922.

Blake said of the overall reductions, “it’s very painful to make a recommendation to any community or Board of Education to make it,” but “unfortunately we have to find a way to reduce expenditures for growth this year and the future and if we don’t we’re going to be in trouble quicker than we want to.”

To help generate revenues for the budget, the proposed local property tax levy would increase by 3.96 percent, as also outlined March 7.

Regarding issues with state financial aid, the district’s biggest revenue source, Rome this year is scheduled to receive $12.7 million less in the key Foundation Aid category than if fully funded based on formulas that are supposed to be used, Blake’s blog added.

The school board by April 23 is scheduled to adopt a proposed budget, which would be subject to district voters’ approval in a May 21 election.

• The proposed resolution involving the former Fort Stanwix school, 112 W. Linden St., states it “is no longer needed for school district purposes” plus the cost of maintaining it “is excessive and diverts funds which could otherwise be used for school purposes.”

Also, the resolution says any offer to purchase the site would be subject to board approval and to a permissive referendum involving a public vote.

The Fort Stanwix building, closed as a regular elementary school in 2009, for several years since then has hosted students from other district schools who were displaced during renovation projects.

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