Liverpool Liverpool Central School District Superintendent Dr. Richard N. Johns presented his $135.7 million budget proposal to the board of education and about 35 members of the public Monday night.
Johns’ 2013-14 proposed budget, which represents a $2,044,983 increase from last year, makes some cuts and restores some items previous budgets have cut. It relies heavily on the district’s reserves to close a $9 million gap.
“This year, the… gap that we faced… was a chasm that would require cutbacks equivalent to 100 positions,” Johns said in his budget message. “Such a reduction would necessarily cause the district to have to tell current students that some of the opportunities provided to past generations of Liverpool students would no longer be available to them.”
In his message, Johns excoriated the state government for their repeated cuts to public education. He was particularly critical of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Gap Elimination Adjessment, which he said has cost the district tens of millions of dollars over the last five years.
“If the district continues, for even one more year, with the deleterious burden of the Gap Elimination [Adjustment], it will have to consider reductions and/or elimination of student opportunities that most of us would consider fundamental aspects of public education in Liverpool, New York.”
The Gap Elimination Adjustment is a reduction in school aid the state enacted in order to reduce its deficit. In Liverpool, that amount has ranged from $8.3 million to $10 million each of the last five years.
“Further sacrifices in education come at too high a cost,” Johns said, asserting that the state has not made public education a priority. “This is killing us. It’s absolutely killing us.”
This year’s budget includes the largest increase in retirement costs Johns said he has ever seen. Last year, the district was mandated by the state to pay $6,000,153 into the teacher’s retirement system. This year, that goes up to $8,235,007. Over the last five years, the district’s payments to the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) have gone up 94.47 percent, while payments to the Employee Retirement System (ERS), which covers all district staffers except teachers, have gone up 147.35 percent.