No tax increase in final Sharon budget


By Patsy Nicosia

Sharon Springs Central School adopted its $8.2 million budget with no increase in taxes Monday.
Now it’s up to voters.
“I hope that with that zero percent increase in the tax levy, we’ll get a positive vote,” said Business Administrator Tony DiPace.
“We did everything we could.”
The budget includes some $25,000 in savings from a wage freeze agreed to by the non-teachers union and confidential managerial organization—SSCS secretaries and the like.
Mr. DiPace said there was some reluctance on the part of the school board to take the offered wage freeze “because these were the people who could most use the money,” but there was also the feeling that the groups would be disappointed if the freeze wasn’t accepted.
The savings will mean that much less that the district has to take from the fund balance.
“We fully expect next year to be even worse,” said Superintendent Pat Green.
This year is bad enough.
According to projected state aid figures, SSCS will be receiving $5,732 less in 2009-10.
The only other Schoharie County school to see a decrease is Gilboa-Conesville, down $2,300.
“I don’t think it’s any surprise that the smallest schools are down,” Mr. DiPace said.
School enrollment across the county is down, but at SSCS, 24 fewer students since July 2, 2008 is significant, Mr. Green said.
The new budget cuts one elementary teacher, one half-time math teacher, and changes three fulltime teaching assistants to half-time teacher’s aides.
Also cut is $20,000 in in-school funding for the after school program and a computer tech position is being cut to part-time.
That’s all in addition to one elementary teacher and one bus driver cut mid-year, along with sports and computer cuts also already made.
Overall, the 2009-10 budget is up $8,000 or .1 percent.
The district was unsuccessful in negotiating a wage freeze with teachers.
However, in a written statement presented at Monday’s school board meeting, the non-teachers union and confidential managerial organization said they were willing to make the sacrifice.
“We recognize that there are many people in our community that are out of a job, unable to pay their mortgage and struggling just to get by.
“…we unanimously choose to stand by our desire to take a pay freeze…We see no lines of separation between our jobs and our community and 0applaud your desire to have a zero percent increase…
“We have an obligation to stand behind our students and our school.”