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Local News

December 27, 2012

Local schools made hard choices

(Continued)

In response to the possibility, a group of area residents formed Unatego United to organize action about getting more state aid. The group helped organize a forum Feb. 9 at the junior/senior high school to meet with area legislators to talk about restoring some of the state funding that was proving the earlier predictions to be accurate.

The state aid cuts “cripple our fine schools,” Superintendent Charles Molloy said. The state budget released March 30 gave some additional money to area schools, including $149,000 to Unatego. It was not enough to change the direction of the budget crisis, officials said.

It led to Molloy and business manager Nicholas Rosas proposing a plan in April at a school board meeting that would close Otego Elementary School, while maintaining the K-5 elementary school in Unadilla. After a proposal by board member Scott Brown to use additional fund balance, the final plan that was part of the budget proposal that went before voters called for students in grades K-2 to go to Otego and grades 3-5 to attend Unadilla Elementary School. In September, students and staff said the new arrangement was working well.

Budget Voting

and the Tax Cap

Voters approved Unatego and Oneonta budgets in May 15 voting. The Oneonta vote required a 60 percent majority because the two proposals on the ballot, if passed, would have put the total tax levy increase above the new state property tax cap requirements.

This was the first year the rules were in effect. It requires schools to propose budgets where the tax levy increase does not exceed 2 percent, with some exceptions. If it is beyond that, a 60 percent majority is required. The two other area central school budgets that exceeded the cap, Unadilla Valley — that called for a tax levy increase of 4.3 percent, and Cobleskill-Richmondville — that called for a 4.54 percent increase — were defeated. Both were reduced to meet the cap requirements and were passed in June 19 voting.

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