After reviewing final state aid figures and assessing feedback from the school community, the Mohonasen Central School District will present the Board of Education with a recommended 2019-20 budget that preserves its elementary orchestra program and reduces the impact of music staffing reductions.
“Despite advocacy efforts by our community and the support of our state legislators aimed at securing state aid owed to the district, the recently adopted state budget managed to increase Mohonasen’s aid by just $57,000,” said Superintendent Shine. “However, as a school district, part of our responsibility is to listen to the community at-large when determining budget priorities and that is what we are doing.”
Superintendent Shine said while the approved 2019-20 New York state budget continues to underfund Mohonasen schools by nearly $4 million annually and provides only a 1 percent, or $137,581 year-to-year increase, the district is offering retirement incentives to minimize the number of staff layoffs, while reducing the overall workforce.
“At Mohonasen, we have heard the music community loud and clear, and we deeply appreciate the passionate advocacy of our community,” he said.
The revised plan would reduce music staff by one part-time music position (0.7 FTE) rather than the 1.7 FTE positions that had originally been slated for elimination. This reduction will impact small group lessons and may decrease the number of lessons or increase the number of students per lesson, Shine said, but would allow students to continue joining the orchestra strings program at Pinewood Intermediate School beginning in grade three.
The superintendent said the same staffing configuration was in place several years ago.
“To be clear, with this level of staffing, no music programs will be reduced or cut,” said Shine.
How the state budget impacts Mohonasen
Under the 2019-20 New York state budget, adopted April 1, the Mohonasen Central School District is expected to receive $13,738,672 in Foundation Aid. This is a $137,581, or approximately 1 percent, increase over the current year. Foundation Aid is the primary source of funds received from the state. This figure is approximately $57,000 more than what was included in the Governor’s proposed budget in January.
“Senator George Amedore and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara strongly lobbied and advocated on the district’s behalf,” said Superintendent Shine. “Ultimately, they were just as frustrated by the level of Foundation Aid distributed to all school districts, not just Mohonasen.”
Superintendent Shine said he is asking the local legislators to advocate for additional aid from the state, sometimes called “bullet aid,” to help offset the impact of such limited Foundation Aid.
How retirement incentives impact Mohonasen
Retirement incentives are being proposed for teachers and support staff for two purposes:
- To allow attrition to account for the majority of reductions and minimize the number of staff members who would lose their jobs, while reducing the overall force; and
- To reduce expenses by replacing more senior staff with less expensive staff.
The savings is projected to be about $125,000 in 2019-20 and $250,000 in 2020-21.
After taking into account the additional Foundation Aid, a shift in the proposed music reductions and the savings from retirement incentives, the district still estimates it will need to apply $400,000 from its reserves toward the remaining budget gap for the 2019-2020 budget.
The Board of Education is expected to approve a proposed budget on Monday, April 8. The community will vote on the adopted budget Tuesday, May 21.