Friday, March 27, 2009


Our good friends at the Lockport Union Sun & Journal reported on last night's board meeting...

ROY-HART: $800,000 in cuts needed for 3.93 percent tax levy increase

MIDDLEPORT— Royalton-Hartland isn’t cutting anything in its athletics program yet for the 2009-10 school year, but it is looking to trim $50,000 from the district sports teams.

The Board of Education has to cut $800,000 from the proposed 2009-10 school year budget, in order to get it down to a tax levy increase of under 4 percent. Superintendent Paul Bona said the cuts would have to come from every area in the budget, including cuts in staffing and the $50,000 in the athletics program. To reduce the levy any further would require almost $1 million in cuts.

“That’s the dilemma the board faces,” Bona said. “It’s dramatic, it’s a bare bones budget.”

The current form of the 2009-10 school year spending plan is a $22,987,355 budget. That would come with a 3.93 percent increase on the tax levy, which in turn would raise the tax rate about 89 cents per $1,000 of assessed land value.

Board President Patricia Riegle said the budget process began with a first draft that called for a 13 percent tax levy increase. That wasn’t going to pass with voters, so the board looked at everything in the budget closely, she said.

“We are very adamant this year about being fair and consistent to everybody that’s concerned,” Riegle said. “Are there going to be cuts in programs and services to our students? I’m afraid to say most likely that is going to happen.”

When the board whittled the proposed budget down to its current form, Riegle said she felt the 3.93 percent increase was still high for some residents; but to cut further would eliminate even more from the district, she said. Riegle added the cuts would be spread out in all areas of the district.

“I also asked to see what it would look like at 2 percent (tax levy increase) and it was devastating,” she said. “If we’re all going to suffer, we’re going to suffer together as a group.”

Nothing has been decided yet to achieve the $50,000 cuts to the athletic program, but football and junior varsity field hockey were sports of interest. The number of students that participate in a sport will be considered, Riegle said. The board was given a list of the number of students participating in each sport for the past three years.

“One of the areas that did jump off the page at us was the minimal number of students that participate in our football program.” Riegle said.

Riegle said it may be possible Roy-Hart has too many fall sports, considering the number of students in the district. She added nothing is written in stone. All the board has done is decide on the sports figure of $50,000. And the district is waiting to hear about any federal stimulus money, which could ease the burden.

“But for some reason the mail is awful slow from Washington, D.C., to Albany these days,” Riegle said.

Part of the $800,000 in cuts may also come in eliminating 12 positions within the district. Bona said the majority of the positions were academic.

As far as additional funding is concerned, Bona said the only sure thing is Gov. David Paterson’s proposal for state aid which is less than the previous school year. Any additional revenue would reduce the $800,000 in cuts that the district determined was necessary.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” Bona said.

A possible option may be the community. Riegle said a lot of schools have active sports boosters clubs, and a more active one in Roy-Hart could help make up the $50,000 deficit. She said the district would also meet with the local group, the Loyal Football program boosters.