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SCSD presents 2013-2014 budget proposal

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: SCSD presents 2013-2014 budget proposal
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For a few years now, districts have been doing more with less. Now the challenge is how to continue to doing that. The Syracuse City School District presented its proposed 2013 - 2014 budget Wednesday. More cuts to teaching staff are expected. Our Iris St. Meran takes a look at the numbers.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse's chief financial officer presented a new budget proposal for the 2013-2014 school year. It's nearly $368-million, but what's in it is similar to previous years: Cuts. Again facing a deficit, the district may be forced lay off 63 workers; 22 of those include teachers and teaching staff.

"We know from past experience we hire most of our staff back. Nevertheless, it's still an elimination of positions. We're starting to cut into our core business of teaching and learning," said Syracuse City School District Superintendent Sharon Contreras.

Contreras says all the numbers have yet to come in as far as staff retirements and resignations. The district is looking to use nearly $10-million from the fund balance for revenue. Enrollment is projected to increase by less than 1% which is about 200 students The superintendent says mandatory staffing levels are okay for now, but others say the district needs help.

Syracuse Teachers Association President Kevin Ahern said, "A great question for our legislators and Governor. How long can we continue at this pace? What will be left of the school district if you continue to cut positions?"

In the past four years, 950 positions have been cut. That number could top one thousand under this proposal. One of the main issues is pension costs. District officials say they will soon be spending 63-cents on benefits for every dollar spent on salary.

The district’s Chief Financial Officer Suzanne Slack said, "There's a cost of doing business, but there's got to be a better way and we really need the state's assistance in getting down the health care cost and pension costs."

There is some relief expected from the governor's education proposal, but for districts like Syracuse, it's hardly a long term solution.

There will be two public hearings on the budget. The first will be Monday, February 25th.
The second will be Thursday, March 7th. Both hearings will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 at the District Offices on Harrison Street.

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