JCS first budget workshop covers a lot of ground

— The Johnsburg Central School Board covered a lot of ground in their first of two budget workshops Jan. 23, which focused on staffing and benefits. Those budget items make up about $6.5 million of the slightly less than $10 million school budget.

“That's what we do,” said Superintendent Mike Markwica. “That's what our school's made up of.”

Working with the students is the primary goal of any school, so department heads advocated their budget lines in the hopes that they wouldn't see any more cuts to their departments.

“Everyone's hope was that they won't lose more in their department,” said Markwica. The 2010-2011 budget was $10,062,415, and the 2011-2012 budget dropped to $9,856,704.

“They're doing more with less, but the less is affecting students,” said Markwica.

Principal Nadine Kearney told the board that numbers have gone up for academic intervention services sought by the Committee on Special Education, which requests one-on-one attention for students.

Since 2009, the faculty has laid off or not replaced a special education teacher, a home and career teacher, two elementary teachers, a part-time art teacher and two teacher's aides.

Staffing reductions like those mean the third grade has only one teacher, and she's instructing a class of 23, large for a small school like Johnsburg, said Markwica. That student density had one member of the public voicing concern at the budget workshop about demands on the teacher and quality of education. Markwica said they plan to hold steady with one third grade teacher, and although there are always concerns with larger classes, the teacher is doing well.

Depending on the number of interested enrollees in the school's pre-k program, the school will be mailing out a survey to parents of pre-k aged kids to get an idea of who will be enrolling there, in the Head Start or not entering them into those programs at all. They may have to find a way to deal with enrollee numbers that are higher than the class capacity, like a lottery.

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