Cortland School District to hold meeting on restructuring proposed budget

Cortland Jr./Sr. High School. (Photo Source: Kevin L. Smith/Cortland Voice).

The Cortland Enlarged City School District (CECSD) is heading back to the drawing board after a majority of community members voted against the 2023-24 proposed budget earlier this week.

CECSD will hold a special Board of Education (BOE) meeting at 10 a.m. Friday at the school district office at 1 Valley View Dr. The meeting will not be livestreamed, but is open to the public in person.

The meet will not only involve the school district’s BOE making voting results official, but getting to work on restructuring the originally proposed budget.

The initial proposed budget, which was set at $54,508,998, included a 9.5% tax levy increase. This resulted in the community voting against it by a 543-to-452 margin on Tuesday.

“When we became aware that this year’s budget would have significant challenges, we approached the issue with our focus being around maintaining and preserving programs for our students,” said CECSD superintendent Bob Edwards in a release. “We knew (the 9.5% tax levy increase) was a big ask.”

The proposed tax rate, Edwards said, was at $16.87. This figure was below the tax rates every school year going back to 2013. The 2022-23 school year was the only exception at $15.58.

The school tax rates these past few years were $16.94 in 2022, $17.22 in 2021 and $17.08 in 2020.

“This year’s rates are lower, but this year was an anomaly when compared with all past years,” Edwards said. “We thought that asking to return to a rate below all of those previous years was doable.”

The school district’s work from here on out will build towards another attempt of the community budget vote on June 20.

“We know that every budget proposal (below the 9.5% tax levy increase) will impact student programming. The question now will be how much of an impact on our students this next proposal, and vote, will have,” Edwards said.

Edwards noted in the release that the school district’s work moving forward will have “some difficult challenges” as the district navigates through options.

Edwards plans to have an updated statement by the end of the day on Friday on the school district’s progress of a new budget proposal. He also intends on providing a statement every week up until the June 20 budget vote.

“My work will be to make this next set of difficult decisions as clear and efficient as we can, in an effort to ensure the least amount of stress on our school community,” he said.

A breakdown of the school district’s initial proposed 2023-24 budget can be viewed by click here.