CECSD administration breaks down new budget proposal

(Photo provided by Kevin L. Smith of The Cortland Voice).

Cortland Enlarged City School District’s (CECSD) business administrator and superintendent further broke down the revised proposed 2023-24 budget that was announced last week.

The new proposal for the 2023-24 budget currently sits at $53,466,042. The original proposal at $54,508,998 failed at a 452-to-543 margin last Tuesday.

CECSD’s restructured budget shows a 1.89% tax levy, a significant change from the initial proposed tax levy from the school district’s proposal (9.5% tax levy).

If approved, the projected tax rate will be at $15.69-per-thousand. This proposal is an 11-cent increase of the tax rate from the 2022-23 budget.

“We’re going to the tax cap,” CECSD business administrator Kris Williamson said. “It will include tax rates close to what they are at the moment.”

CECSD superintendent Bob Edwards noted in the release from Friday that in order for the budget to pass, it requires a 50% majority vote, plus-1.

The decrease in the proposed tax levy means the school district proposed “reductions,” according to Edwards in a release.

Over 15 positions/programs will be “reduced,” including:

  • Administrator secondary
  • Attendance clerk
  • Broadcast technician
  • Director of curriculum and instruction
  • Drivers’ education
  • English-Language Arts (ELA) – high school teacher
  • Instructional coach
  • Library aides
  • Math – high school teacher
  • School monitor
  • Special education teacher
  • Teaching assistants
  • Transportation administrative assistant

Williamson told The Cortland Voice on Monday that four of the positions – director of curriculum and instruction, administrator secondary and two teaching assistants – are retirements and will not be refilled.

The special education position was created but unfilled. Aside from the retirements and unfilled roles, the other 11 positions are layoffs.

Reductions, aside from supplies and materials, also include $66,000 for the driver’s education program. Williamson said CECSD will not offer this summer. The individuals who run the program are typically teachers who receive extra stipends, Williamson added. 

According to Williamson’s budget presentation from Friday’s special Board of Education meeting, the result is $1,066,000 in proposed reductions.

“I asked members of the leadership team to carry out the difficult conversations with those staff members. All of those conversations have happened at this point,” Edwards said in a release. “It is difficult for a staff to go through this, as these are reductions in staff and every single person on our staff impacts our students. We’ve just reduced our impact on students. I’m not sure there is another way to communicate this to our voters. This has been difficult, but I expect that our staff will rally, like we always do, to step up and continue to provide great opportunities and experiences for our students.”

CECSD will announce the first of two public legal notices on June 6, along with providing a breakdown of the new budget proposal and required documents that will be provided to the public.

The second legal notice is slated for June 13. On the same day, CECSD will hold a budget hearing at 6:30 p.m. at the junior-senior high school auditorium.

Voting on the budget proposal is scheduled for noon to 9 p.m. June 20 at the following locations:

  • Kaufman Center (Cortland School District Office), 1 Valley View Drive
  • Cortlandville Municipal Garage, 3587 Terrace Road
  • Virgil Town Hall, 1176 Church Street

“Although next budget season seems like a long way (ahead), I expect that we will need to again propose an override to the lax levy,” Edwards said. “This proposal, at this year’s tax cap of 1.89%, with another tax rate lower than what our community paid going back to 2013, does not help us move forward in a sustainable way. If I had any wish for our community it would be that I become better at helping our voters know how much we need them to invest in our teachers and staff in the future. Our school district will continue to experience reduction in opportunities for students and fiscal stress if we continue to build budgets based around the need to go over the limitations imposed on school districts and without help from our voters to achieve a supermajority vote.”