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North Syracuse schools preparing for cuts

The budget presented by North Syracuse's superintendent Monday night calls for a 4.78 tax increase.

The budget presented by North Syracuse's superintendent Monday night calls for a 4.78 tax increase.

— Monday evening, residents of the North Syracuse Central School District heard the bleak outlook on the coming budget year from school administrators.

With decreased revenues in the form of state and federal aid, the district is looking at tough decisions where cuts are concerned, but trying to keep the community part of ongoing “courageous conversations” about the financial condition at NSCSD.

The district “has been struggling financially for at least the last three years,” Superintendent Kim Dyce Faucette said to the board of education. “We’re going to need to make tough decisions.”

In the past three years, revenues have declined, costs have increased, expenditures have been cut $15.2 million, 200 positions eliminates and the burden of funding schools has shifted from the state and federal government to the taxpayer.

“In our current position, we will need to make deep cuts in our expenditures, eliminating as many as 95 additional positions,” Dyce Faucette said.

The preliminary 2012-13 budget — $143,186,335 — represents a 4.9 percent increase from 2011-12, or $6,701,864.

“What this represents is business as usual,” said Donald Keegan, assistant superintendent for management.

The hardest number to swallow is the possible tax levy, equaling $82,078,571, or a 12.7 percent increase from the current budget. However, administrators say a levy that high simply is not feasible, but it is part of the decreased aid/increased levy trend districts are seeing as the government continues to give less financial support to public schools.

Cuts to the budget must be made before the budget adoption on April 16. Mandated items, though, cannot be cut and any changes must be permitted under existing labor agreements, Dyce Faucette said.

“The biggest piece of the pie is instruction, as it should be,” Keegan said.

As 77 percent of the budget consists of personnel costs, the cuts will consist of position eliminations.

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