Update: Penn Yan School may cut 22 posts

Gwen Chamberlain

If the Penn Yan School Board approves the 2011-2012 budget presented to it on March 9, the number of school staff posts will be reduced by 22.5 full time positions, class sizes will increase,  fewer courses will be offered each year, some programs and courses will be eliminated and the total property tax levy will increase by 2.88 percent.

The administrative team presented its final budget proposal, which reflects an overall spending reduction of $340,070, March 9.

The tax levy for the $31.3 million plan totals $16.1 million, and the true value tax rate is $10.26. Tax rates may vary from town to town, based on equalization rates.

Specific cuts and their impact, according to the presentation given by Assistant Superintendent for Business Doug Tomandl, building principals and other administrators, are listed below

Elementary School

• Reduce the number of classes in grades three, four and five, meaning class sizes will range from 20 to 22 students.  The impact is a reduction of three full time teachers and portions of art, music and physical education teachers.

• Reduce one full time teacher aide, one full time teacher assistant, one full time reading teacher.

• Adopt a six day rotation, decreasing the number of classes per year in special areas (art, music, physical education)

Middle School

• Reduce art teaching, foreign language, technology, home and careers and vocal music teaching staff, which will eliminate sixth grade foreign language classes and increase class sizes in other areas. In some cases, teachers will split their time between the middle school and the academy or elementary school.

Academy

• Reductions in art, English, physical education and music staff will mean fewer course offerings and larger class sizes.

• Elimination of the computer lab teaching assistant will mean students will be limited to using the library/media center for computers use during study halls and other teachers will be responsible for setting up and trouble-shooting the computer lab.

• Cutting five slots for students at the Wayne-Finger Lakes Technical Center will eliminate options for students wanting trade or specialized programs. This will also eliminate attendance at Alternative High School and New Visions (medical career) programs.

• Elimination of YEA (Young Entrepreneurs Academy) and the suspension of the third course in the Bio-Medical Science sequence will increase other class sizes.

Physical Education, Health Services, Athletics

• Reductions to the summer driver education program and instituting a $100 tuition fee.

• Cut six coaching positions and reduce site workers.

Special Education:

• Reducing school psychologists from four to three will increase case loads.

• Cutting one special education teaching position in the elementary school will eliminate math and ELA special classes in first grade.

Other

• One mentor/staff development position will be cut.

• The Middle School assistant principal position will be cut, but a Dean of Students position will be added.

• Cuts in supplies and equipment will impact all areas and mean fewer field trips and special speakers.

• Two bus driver positions will be cut, changing bus routes.

• The Summer School program for fifth and sixth grade students will be eliminated.

• Other staff cuts include a half time crossing guard, one full time food service and one full time custodian.

The position reductions will be accomplished through 14.5 retirements, two resignations, 10.8 lay-offs/reductions, 3.8 replacements and the addition of one new position (Dean of Students).

Before presenting the spending plan, Board President Jeff Morehouse, Interim Superintendent Tom Cox and Tomandl addressed some of the issues that have come up during and following some recent public forums.

Responding to comments that the school district leadership has not been sharing complete information with the public, Morehouse said, “I feel we’ve been as transparent as we can be,” and he added that he believes posting lists of individual staff salaries would drive a wedge between members of the community. “We’re all on the same team and we’re here to work on the same goal,” he said.

Cox described the steps involved in the process of consolidation with another district, and said he will be seeking board approval to work with the Dundee and Marcus Whitman Schools to hire a consultant to study the feasibility and design of a consolidated business office.

The school board will vote on the adoption of the budget at its next regular meeting on March 30.

A public hearing on the budget will be held May 4 and the annual vote will take place on May 17. In addition to considering the budget, voters will elect three school board members to three-year terms. Candidates are incumbents Anita Maroscher, Nancy Scher and Mike Van Wormer and newcomer Renee Bloom.