Schools talk of cuts and sharing

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

Penn Yan and Dundee School officials continue whittling away at their 2011-’12 spending plans this week. At the same time, they are looking past 2012 to the coming years, a move that has the support of some people who attended last week’s budget forum in Penn Yan.

The Penn Yan School Board will hear the latest developments in the budget at its March 9 meeting, and Interim Superintendent Tom Cox is expected to report on consolidation options.

Officials from Penn Yan, Dundee and Marcus Whitman School Districts have been discussing ways the districts might be able to find some savings through combined services.

Last week’s budget forum was the second in Penn Yan. About 50 people turned out for the session, which lasted about two hours. Cox said another forum will likely be scheduled after the March 9 board meeting. Before the March 9 meeting, the Penn Yan budget proposal stands at $31.6 million, which reflects a tax levy increase of 9.49 percent.

Some of the suggestions and comments that came from members of the audience included:

• Market the sports facilities for Section V tournaments and other events.

• Sell naming rights to the sports stadium

• Develop a strategic plan for the next five years, including a strategic plan for the three Yates County districts as well. “This is a great opportunity for doing things differently,” said former Superintendent Gene Spanneut.

• Find ways to involve community members in the budget development and planning process, which should include benchmarking.

District officials have begun looking into the future of the Middle School Building. The board gave its approval to a study in February.

“We do need to get through the next four weeks, but we also need to look at the long term,” said Cox, who later said, “We will do what we can to be as approachable and responsible as possible.”

Dundee

Meanwhile, in Dundee last week, members of the school board met with administrators in a workshop setting, where they trimmed $178,000 from the spending plan after working through a list of categories to reduce the budget.

Through consensus, the board agreed to:

• Abolish one Social Studies position that will be vacated through retirement at the end of this year.

• Eliminate one second grade section, which can also be accomplished through a retirement.

• Abolish the summer session of driver education.

Other savings might be realized if the academic summer program with Penn Yan and Marcus Whitman is eliminated and through changes in interscholastic sports. Representatives from all the leagues in Section V were expected to make a decision this week about universal changes to save money in all school districts.

The board decided to keep some of the options that were presented as possible areas for reductions, including: a reading position, bus purchase, tractor purchase, business program, and music and art positions.

The reductions brought the tax levy increase down to 6.3 percent rather than the previous 10.2 percent.

The board asked Superintendent Kathy Ring and Business Manager Melissa Lawson to gather more information about administrative and guidance positions, stipend positions (advisors, coaches, etc.) and extracurricular activities.

The Dundee Board meets again at 7 p.m. March 10 in the public meeting room.