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Budget Picture Reviewed

Bridging the Gap was the title of a presentation at last week’s Waterville Board of Education meeting that opened with a look at this year’s budget.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Kathy Davis and Business administrator Tracy Leone explained to the board the various gaps between expenses and revenues seen in the 2020-21 budget that began in July. “We’re seeing gaps begin to widen,’’ Davis said.

The meeting took place in the High School auditorium with about 45 people in the audience sitting several seats apart. The Board also livestreamed the meeting on Facebook.

Davis reviewed the school funding principles supported by the New York State School Boards Association. These include equity in funding for districts, flexibility and predictability.

“The state said they won’t touch the late September payment,’’ Davis said. “They said nothing about the rest of the payments.’’

She reviewed the Gap Elimination Adjustment which has seen Waterville Central School District lose $6.2 million since 2010. Foundation aid, which serves as the largest source of operating funds, has stayed pretty close to the same amount for a few years, even as expenses go up.

Davis, who is serving as WCS superintendent until the Board hires someone, said despite declining enrollment WCS continues to keep a full complement of staffing. This year’s enrollment began at 767, with about 66 kids being home schooled.

“We need to look at staffing,’’ she said. “Right now expenditures are over your revenues.’’

She will join Board members next month during their retreat; Davis said one topic she will bring up is right sizing the staff.

This year some changes were made in administrative duties, with the Athletic Director/Assistant Principal position split into two. Davis said she has more recommendations in that area to give to the Board.

Leone said as of Sept. 24 the district’s total loss of aid from the state for the year so far stands at $179,475. “After this month each month’s payment is on the chopping block,’’ she said. “We don’t know if it will be 100 percent or 80 percent.’’

In addition to loss of revenue, the district has spent almost $50,000 on Covid-19 related expenses.

To help close the gap, the district did not hire replacements for teacher vacancies in technology, English, science, special education and math along with the assistant principal vacancy. After hiring for an athletic director, savings by doing this is at $340,000.

Davis said Waterville cannot continue to have only a few students in a class. She suggested looking at nearby schools to see if their students can come for certain classes as a possible revenue source.

After the one-hour presentation, Board member Russell Stewart, also vice president of the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES Board, said the governor has not supported public education. “The state has not been a friend of education during the Cuomo years,’’ he said.

Also during the three-hour meeting, Board members heard from several parents and seniors regarding the decision to hold off on fall sports until the spring. Football has already been moved to March by the state.

Boys varsity soccer coach Brian Bogan said he agreed with the decision to wait to better see how the Covid-19 infection rate fares now that school…

The full story is in this week's edition of the newspaper. 

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