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Hannibal’s Next School Budget Not Likely to Require Job Cuts

The next Hannibal school district budget should not require the district to lay off workers or eliminate programs to fit under the state’s property tax cap, the district’s Superintendent said.

Donna Fountain’s comments came after a work session on the budget for the 2013-14 school year.

“We are not anticipating any cuts in education,” Fountain said.  She added that extracurricular programs should also remain as-is.

Her optimism comes despite a proposed state aid package that only increases aid to the district by about 1.7%.

Governor Cuomo promised schools 4% increases in education aid, but actual numbers vary by district because of a number of factors.  Hannibal will bring in less state aid for the education of students with disabilities, for example, because the district is bringing more of those students back to Hannibal for school rather than sending them to BOCES.

Districts throughout the region are doing this.  They say they are able to offer an equal or better quality of education at a lower cost.

Hannibal’s change will result in the loss of more than $109,000 in state aid for the education of children with special needs.

There are also small drops in state aid in categories where aid depends on the number of students in the district.  The number is declining.

The Governor is making more money available to schools through a new program of grants, but Fountain said that this leaves smaller districts such as Hannibal — the sixth-poorest in the state by one key measure — at a disadvantage.

The district cannot afford to hire a consultant to write the grant application.

Fountain said she spent part of the last weekend writing a grant application, but said a grant writer has the time to apply for many grants and has the expertise to write them in ways that are more likely to be successful.

During the work session, board members saw the administration’s proposal for its transportation and operations and maintenance budgets.

The two budgets total approximately $3.4 million. Fountain proposes an increase of approximately $25,000 over the current budget.  Most of the increase is in salaries for the departments. Nearly all other lines are held at no increases.

The board will review the administration’s proposed instructional budget on March 4 and the budget for administration and debt service on March 25.  The work session is open to the public.

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