By JIMMY LAWTON
POTSDAM – An increase in school aid and additional funding secured by Assembly member Addie J. Russell has allowed Potsdam Central School to restore several positions and programs previously slated to be cut.
Superintendent Patrick Brady said an earlier proposal had called for called for more than $1 million in cuts to staff and programming, including 11.5 full-time equivalent positions, and a $454,440 increase in the tax levy. It also drew $1.45 million from the fund balance and reserves and an additional $450,000 from the debt service and reserve retirement funds.
The proposed cuts included the elimination of a social studies teacher, a high school teacher’s aide, a science teacher, a special education teacher, a physical education teacher, an English language arts teacher, a take back of BOCES services, a half-time foreign language teacher, a food service position an elementary teacher and cuts to summer school and math labs.
Still, the plan left $181,484 budget shortfall, Brady said.
But that gap was closed by a $397,000 increase in state aid announced in the legislative budget and an additional $100,000 in bullet aid secured by Assembly member Russell.
Tuesday, the school board also agreed to use the additional funds restore $347,450 in programs and staffing.
The restoration included a half-time social studies teacher, a full-time science teacher, a half-time English teacher, a part-time foreign language teacher, a half-time music teacher, a full-time elementary teacher, a full-time physical education teacher and an elementary summer school program.
In a separate action Tuesday, the board also voted to restore an additional half-time social studies teacher and a part-time foreign language teacher which brought both employees back to full time. It also called for the restoration of a half-time reading teacher to meet the needs of at-risk students; and the math lab.
Another vote was held that would have also restored a half-time music teacher position to a full-time position, but the proposal failed with a 4-4 vote.
Board members Mark Frascatore, Wade Davis, Tom Hobbs, and Fred Stone voted to restore the position, while Chris Cowen, Pat Turbett, Danielle Gray, and Ralph Fuller. Jim Hubbard was absent from the meetings.
Brady said the restoration still leaves several positions on the chopping block.
They included a full-time math teacher, a half-time English language arts teacher, a half-time music teacher, a high school teacher’s aide, a special education teacher, a cashier and a cafeteria monitor.