Cazenovia school district budget gap could be $500K this year

‘We’re going to have to cut,’ Superintendent Dubik says

— The Cazenovia Central School District budget for the 2014-15 school year currently has a gap of three-quarters-of-a-million dollars; and although the state legislature — which has not finalized the budget yet — typically replaces a portion of the education funding stripped by the governor’s budget, no matter what happens, Cazenovia’s district budget will come up short and some budgetary items will not survive.

“We’re going to have to cut,” Superintendent Bob Dubik told the board of education during its Feb. 24 regular monthly meeting. “This is serious. The recommendations we make are difficult, and it will be a difficult couple of months.”

Assistant Superintendent Bill Furlong agreed. “We’re going to have a long haul this budget season,” Furlong said. “I didn’t think it could get worse, but it is.”

By “worse,” Furlong refers to the district’s current financial hardships, which include a loss of more than $5 million in state aid over five years, increased costs, a state tax cap that limits district revenue raised through taxes and a nearly depleted district fund balance that has been raided every year as a way to plug budget holes.

Last year, the preliminary 2013-14 district budget included an initial projected budget deficit of $650,000 with a nearly 5 percent tax levy increase and the elimination of five or more staff positions in the middle and high schools. The final budget included a 3.39 percent increase in spending over 2012-13 and carried a 4.94 percent tax levy increase, the maximum allowed for the district under the state’s 2011 tax levy limit law. The budget did not include any reductions in existing academic programs but did eliminate two middle school teaching positions, one custodial position and one high school guidance counselor position.

Cazenovia’s declining financial situation led to it being declared a school district “susceptible to fiscal stress,” in the latest Fiscal Stress Monitoring System report released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

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