Plans for possible layoffs — about a dozen in all — were discussed on Tuesday, February 19 as Onteora Central School District officials dig into the process of shaping the 2013/2014-school budget.
Unlike last year, the district is not restricted to a two-percent levy, but instead, through various exemptions and previous budget prudence, has been allowed a maximum levy increase of 4.96 percent, which will be permitted to pass by a simple majority vote of the district citizens, instead of a 60 percent super majority. At the February 19 Board of Education meeting at Bennett school, Assistant Superintendent for Business Victoria McLaren presented a projected budget of $51.3 million, an increase of $1.6 million or 3.28 percent. This will yield an estimated tax levy increase of 4.43 percent. As numbers from employee retirement, health insurance (projected to increase by seven percent), and BOCES come in, these numbers will change.
Staff reductions may include a full-time school psychologist, social worker, two guidance counselors, three school monitors, social studies teacher and part time math, art, and science teachers. The district is considering additional staff hiring, to include a full time reading teacher, part time reading coach, head custodian and part time special education teacher. The board is also mulling the idea of returning the School Resource Officer. A new administrative position of a District Wide Assistant Building Principal and Committee on Special Education Chair was included in staff additions. But during the consent agenda this particular administrative position was created beginning February 27 to June 30, with Robert Wood hired as a temporary appointment at $400 a day. Responsibilities are primarily as an APPR (Annual Professional Performance Review) supervisor, overseeing 256 observations of staff and to chair meetings on special education (CSE/CPSE) when needed. Beginning July 1 a permanent employee will take over and District Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Spiegel-McGill said the job would be posted internally, within the district first.
Several trustees voiced concerns over the reduction of counselors.