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Layoffs coming in Ithaca Schools, as board considers “disaster, terrible” budgets

Layoffs coming in Ithaca Schools, as board considers “disaster, terrible” budgets

Photo: WHCU

Three budget scenarios are now on the table in the Ithaca City School District, and all involve significant staff reductions.

On Tuesday, Superintendent Luvelle Brown presented the three options to members of the district’s Board of Education.

Districts officials cited rising pension and health care costs — along with reductions in state aid — as the main reasons for the likely staff reductions.

The proposed budgets come with price tags of $108.5 million, $111.9 million, and $113.7 million.

The $113.7 million options comes with an 8% reduction in teaching staff. That would mean about 50 layoffs.

The budget with the lowest cost would result in about 100 teacher cuts, or about 17% of the full-time teachers in the district. Under that plan, the district would reduce its administration positions by 47%.

Victoria Benson is a science teacher at Boynton Middle School. One of her biggest concerns is the loss of school psychologists and support staff.

“We have more and more students with far more serious needs,” Benson said. “I can’t imagine how we can possibly meet their needs if we don’t have as many people in the building to support them.”

The proposals drew plenty of comments from board members Tuesday night.

“The bottom budget would be a disaster,” said board member Patricia Wasyliw. “The middle budget would be terrible. We could try and live with the top budget, but we are all constrained by fiscal reality.”

Wasyliw also pointed out that two of the three budget options would require a tax cap override, and that would need approval from 60% of the district’s voters.

District officials indicated the staff reductions will likely go through unless state lawmakers include more education aid in the 2014 budget.

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