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ELCS faces budget, GEA woes

Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School

Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School Photo by Keith Lobdell.

Districts can lean on their fund balance as a survival float, but “every piggy bank eventually goes broke,” he said.

The district’s fund balance — accumulated monies that act as a shock absorber against unexpected expenses or revenue shortfalls that could cause an operating deficit — is dropping.

A fiscal cliff, when the fund balance can no longer be relied on as a backup, is projected to hit at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year.

“We’re lucky to have a forward-looking board,” said Osborne. “But right now, we’re in a holding position.”

SOLUTIONS

Osborne said bridging the gap would require a 12.9 percent increase in the tax levy, making an appeal to the public somewhat improbable, which means Team ELSC will continue to snip away at the budget.

“We have to take a careful look across all areas,” he said.

He said while 73 percent of the school’s costs are staff, the district has already eliminated close to 20 percent of instructional staff and he and the board are extremely hesitant to continue down that route.

Osbourne said he and the board will do as much as they can to trim away at “stuff”— supplies, conference trips, stipends — before they examine possible personnel changes.

The district is “right on the line” in terms of staffing and Osborne advised the board at a meeting last week to tread lightly when making decisions that would affect the livelihood of “even just one person” in the community.

Options batted around by the board at their budget workshop last week included hiring a full-time grant writer who can focus on exploring options for state aid, keeping field trips local and other creative solutions.

Other stop-gaps include renting out classroom space, slashing electives and cutting into sports programs.

Shari Morris, mother of two ELCS students, told Osborne on Monday that if came down to it, she’d rather see the district consolidate its leagues with other schools than cut their athletic programs entirely.

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Sarah_Fink 5 months, 4 weeks ago

I would like to reach out to the Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School community as a member of an advocacy group that we have started after facing similar circumstances in Minerva. Our group is called Minerva CARES - Calling on Albany to Restore Equity for our School. We have started a website (found at www.minervacares.org) that we hope is a user-friendly way to educate people about the result of Gap Elimination on our school budgets. This is a North Country issue and one that is set to have grave impacts on our region if we do not work together to raise awareness both in our own communities and with the State. We would love to network with anyone from ELCS to promote advocacy, and urge everyone to visit our website, sign our petition (https://www.change.org/organizations/minerva_cares), and find us on Facebook/Twitter @minervacares.

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