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St. Lawrence Central superintendent recommends eliminating seven teaching positions in 2014-15 budget

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BRASHER FALLS — Seven teacher positions — including one through attrition — are on the chopping block as part of the 2014-15 St. Lawrence Central School District’s budget.

The list also includes one teacher’s aide, one teacher’s assistant and one cook, whose position will be eliminated through attrition after a retirement.

Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr. told Board of Education members during a Wednesday night work session that school officials also plan to trim the school’s athletic budget by 5 percent. The sports budget is approximately $175,000; a 5 percent reduction would cut it by $17,500.

“We’re trying to reduce costs, but keep the opportunities the same for athletes,” he said.

The plan calls for a tax levy increase of 3.72 percent, which is below the school’s tax cap and would raise $172,499, and the use of $451,000 in fund balance.

“We’re using a significant amount of fund balance, more than I’m comfortable with,” he said.

Mr. Vigliotti said the list of teacher reductions, which were not identified Wednesday because the budget is still in a recommendation stage, were agreed upon by administrators who felt they could still provide programming despite the losses. The district currently has approximately 120 teachers on its staff, according to Business Manager Karen Locey.

Mr. Vigliotti provided the St. Lawrence Central United Teachers union in March with a list that contained 23 positions that could have been affected by the reductions in the budget. Under the terms of the union’s contract, district officials are contractually obligated to notify the union in March of any potential reductions.

Mr. Vigliotti said the reductions were necessary because of a $650,000 to $700,000 gap in the district’s 2014-15 spending plan after receiving final state aid numbers. The school had been facing a $1.75 million gap in March.

Although the district saw its state aid increase to $13.7 million, Mr. Vigliotti said not all of that funding is foundation aid, which can be used to help balance the budget.

For example, he said, more than $500,000 is for building aid that goes to pay off capital project debt. Other aid is for services used at the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, as well as excess cost aid for special education. The district has already paid for those services, and the aid it will receive is simply replenishing the money it’s already spent, he said.

There also was a small increase in pre-kindergarten aid, but Mr. Vigliotti said he and other superintendents didn’t know how they could use it.

On the expense side, the superintendent said the district had a slight decline in its Employee Retirement System contribution, “but it’s still going to cost us close to $400,000 next year.”

BOCES services, utilities and the district’s debt service also increased, he said. While building aid is $565,000, its debt service is $701,000.

The $168,000 increase in BOCES costs is because the district is purchasing more services, which would make it eligible for aid the following year, he said.

Board members will be asked to vote on the spending plan during their April 23 meeting.

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