Ripley cuts to meet contingency budget

RIPLEY — The Ripley Central School District finance committee met Thursday and officially cut two positions to meet its contingency budget. One of the two teaching positions was left vacant last year following a resignation and will not be filled for 2018-19 school year.

The cuts resulted from the district voting against a proposed 2018-19 school budget of $9.2 million at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

Superintendent William Caldwell said the position cuts in addition to “minor equipment cuts,” which he estimated to be in range of $7,000 to $8,000, will bring the district within the contingency budget. The 2018-19 contingency budget totals $9,181,160 which is $28,110 less than the rejected proposed budget of $9,209,270.

A physical education teaching position vacancy from the previous school year will not be filled and an AIS teaching position has been cut. The cuts included each position’s salary and benefits.

The district will additionally have to use its fund balance to supplement the deficit created by the contingency budget. Originally, the proposed budget requested to use $215,000 out of the fund balance for the 2018-19 school year. Now, the district will use an additional $124,107 from the fund balance totalling $339,107 from its reserves to supplement the deficit.

While the two positions being cut are already worked into the budget, Caldwell said the money saved from cutting the positions will be funneled back into the fund balance.

Caldwell maintained that while the district is operating on a contingency budget, his mentality and goals for the upcoming school year have not changed.

“We have the same charge we have when we start any year,” Caldwell said. “We will do the best for our students and prepare them for the next stage of their lives as best we can.”

Caldwell said it wasn’t clear whether the district would need a tax levy increase for the 2019-20 school budget next year. He cited the unknowns of enrollment and state aid as varying factors clouding next year’s outlook. The newly appointed superintendent remained optimistic there wouldn’t be a need for a tax levy increase, but in the event one was needed he was hopeful it would be “a tiny one.”

Caldwell said his primary goal, now that the contingency budget was finalized, is to understand why the community was “unhappy with the budget last year.”

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