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April 18, 2013

Oneonta school budget has cuts, tax hike

The Oneonta School District approved a budget Wednesday that calls for a tax levy increase of 2.7 percent. The spending plan still has to be approved by voters. State voting on school budgets is scheduled for May 21.

The district was able to close a budget gap that was at $1.5 million at the start of the season through a number of measures. This included cutting 15.3 positions, including two math teachers, two English teachers, two elementary teachers and two licensed teaching assistants. Seven employees will be laid off, and sixth-grade classes will be moved to the middle school as part of the effort.

Several people express concerns at the meeting over losing talented staff.

Interim Superintendent David Rowley said everyone on the board agrees, but to close such a large gap, “unfortunately, you end up looking at personnel cost.”

There is still about $26,000 in cuts to sports and extracurricular activities that have to be resolved. The board is looking at scenarios to bridge that gap, which will be resolved before the vote, he said.

Bill Grau and Darren Gaisford voted against the budget. Both said they wanted the tax increase to be 0.2 percent higher to allow for some additional spending.

But Grau said while they disagreed with the majority: “I appreciate our ability to discuss it. We are in agreement. We want what is best for the kids.”

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