MAYVILLE - "The plan is to choke us out," is the assessment of Chautauqua Lake Central School Board of Education Vice President Jay Baker regarding Albany educational bureaucrats and small rural school districts.
Baker made the comment at the board's meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 23 during a broad discussion among board members about problems facing CLCS and many other Chautauqua County and upstate school districts.
Many of the comments expressed both the disappointment and frustration of those who attended a "legislative open house" on Saturday, Jan. 19, a question and answer session with New York State Assemblyman Andy Goodell (R,C-Chautauqua) and Senator Catharine Young (R,C,I-Olean).
"I don't think there were any big revelations," board President Jill Scott said.
Most of the questions and answers, Scott said, involved the on-going problems posed by expenses caused by state requirements without any state help in paying for them.
Both Scott and Baker criticized Young for promising certain issues would be addressed in the latest New York budget if members, "would be patient." These issues are not even mentioned in the budget proposal, according to Scott and Baker.
CLCS Superintendent Ben Spitzer said the "punch line" from the session for the district is, "We're losing."
Also at the meeting, the board was informed by district Business Manager Dave Thomas that about $177,000 has been shaved from the 2013-14 budget proposal. However, that still leaves approximately $842,000 that has to be eliminated to bring expenses roughly in line with revenue projections.
"That's where we are. That's our challenge," Thomas said.
Thomas presented the board with a document comparing the actual budgets from the last two years with the latest numbers for the 2013-14 budget. Two of the biggest spending increases are for teachers' retirement and district employees' health insurance, which total about $360,000 more than in the current budget.
A hearing on a final budget proposal will be held at the school on Tuesday, May 7 at 7 p.m., with the vote set a week later between 7 and 9 p.m., also at the school. Both dates were unanimously approved by the board.
In other business, the board okayed the addition of Theo Nelson, Michelle Pattison and Stanley Saeli, all certified, to the substitute teachers list.
Also approved as spring coaches were: Micheal Cummings, varsity baseball; Jennifer Davis, assistant varsity girls track; Rennae Majka, girls jayvee softball; and Jill Emerson as unpaid assistant cheerleading coach.
In addition, the board accepted the resignation of Cummings as golf coach.