Norwich budget sees deep cuts to school personnel

NORWICH – The Norwich High School cafeteria was a sea of purple Monday night as well over 100 people gathered to hear how school leaders propose to close the district’s $3 million budget gap.

Superintendent Gerard O’Sullivan began by reiterating the district’s goal of developing a budget for the 2011-12 academic year which is both fiscally responsible and maintains instructional integrity. He then launched into the specifics of the plan, which keeps district spending flat at $37,090,193.

“I’m proposing a 1.87 percent tax levy increase,” he reported. This translates into approximately $186,000, which still leaves a more than $2.8 million gap between the district’s revenue and expenses.

To close it, O’Sullivan has proposed eliminating a total of 32 positions. 25 of which will be vacated through retirement or resignation, he says. Seven additional jobs will be cut, two others will be reduced to part time and secretarial hours will be “realigned” under the plan.

All told, these staffing cuts will mean a “savings” for the district of $2,274,914 in salaries and benefits. But it will come at a cost of the district’s athletic director, an art teacher, two cleaners, a custodian, five elementary teachers, an English teacher, a hall monitor, two keyboard specialists, a library media specialist, a LOTE teacher, a math teacher, two music teachers, two physical education teachers, a reading teacher, two school bus drivers, three science teachers, three special education teachers, a technology teacher and a teaching assistant. The positions which will be reduced to part-time are that of another elementary teacher and the teacher who provides instruction at the Chenango County Jail.

These staffing cuts alone will not be enough to completely close the budget gap. The superintendent has also proposed $25,295 in cuts to the athletic and extra-curricular programming budgets. This will mean a 5.3 percent reduction in athletic spending, primarily in equipment, supplies and contractual expenditures. Two teams – Freshman boys’ basketball and one of the cheerleading teams – will be eliminated. Expenditures on marching/field band and the high school and middle school musicals will be reduced by 4.6 percent.

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