Thursday, May 12, 2011

In Tight Year, CCS Tax Hike Under COLA


In the end, the 2011-12 Cooperstown Central School budget that goes to the voters Tuesday, May 17, keeps the tax increase at 1.56 percent, under the COLA – the Cost Of Living Adjustment – of 1.6 percent.
The biggest hit was taken by the CCS faculty:  Six positions will be eliminated, resulting in the retirements of eight full- and parttimers.
They include such revered veterans as Latin teacher Pete Henrici and art teacher Eileen Murphy, allowed the teacher-salaries line to be reduced by 11.2 percent, or $260,000.  (Henrici will be returning half-time to keep the Latin program going.)
With state-aid cuts expected from Albany, the CCS board had faced “fairly dire predictions” at the outset, said Superintendent of Schools C.J. Hebert.  But by the time it approved the tentative budget, it surfaced that aid deferred from last year would now be forthcoming, meaning an expected 16-percent cut has become a slight increase.
That’s just for one year, Hebert emphasized; next year, all bets are off.
Other significant changes that came out of budget deliberations included sending sixth grade back to Cooperstown Elementary School, and – due to a dip in participation – eliminating JV girls field hockey.  (Some of the younger girls will be folded into the varsity team.)
Overall, the elimination of the six teaching positions brings the number of faculty to 23 for the 459 students in K-12, raising the average class from 18 to 20 students.
“Over 10 years, there’s been 23-percent drop in enrollment,” said Hebert.  “This is necessary to right-size the teaching staff.”
The overall budget is up a bit, from $15.97 million this year to $16.9 million, 5.93 percent.  The tax levy rises from $10.36 million to $10.5 million.
The polls will be open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, in the middle/high school auditorium for qualified voters from the Village of Cooperstown and towns of Hartwick, Middlefield and Otsego who reside in the school district.
In addition to Henrici and Murphy, other staffers retiring are Deborah Kiser and Roxanne Murray at Cooperstown Elementary, and at the middle/school: Laura Jane Reidhead (secretary), Michele Townsend (remedial reading, writing), Wayne Weir (health/phys-ed) and Margaret Yakos.
After the tentative budget was approved, Hebert learned that Mindy Kilmer, nutrition services supervisor, will be returning to school for an advanced degree, and he has arranged with Milford School Superintendent Peter Livshin to share Milford’s supervisor next year, another savings.
The retirements are a bit complicated.  In addition to Henrici returning halftime, Murphy’s art position will also be reduced to halftime, and it is not yet known if she will return.
Retired teacher Frank Miosek had been teaching math halftime, but that half-time position is now being eliminated.  Same with a half-time science position.
“Overall,” said Hebert, “I’m confident the students are going to have an excellent program.”

TO VOTE: The polls will be open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, at the Cooperstown Central Middle/High School auditorium to vote on the $16 million budget for the 2011-12 school year.

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