Elk Lake staff reduction likely

A number of Elk Lake faculty members and employees may be laid off, suspended, demoted, terminated, or furloughed in the near future, an administrator announced at the board meeting on Wednesday, May 3.
The school board approved a resolution granting permission to Superintendent Ken Cuomo effective May 3, to move forward with these actions, based on the district’s low enrollment of students.
The programs to be downsized or curtailed will be chosen from the special education and secondary education departments, Cuomo said.
“The enrollment was at 1,169 last week, including all of those attending from other school districts and non-resident staff children,” Cuomo said. “At the district’s peak in 1995, there were 1,711 students enrolled.”
Cuomo said, “This is not easy. People are in the mix, families are in the mix. We will have a plan moving forward.”
Cuomo said that part of this process might be achieved by combining classes or demoting employees rather than removing them.
He said that while declining enrollment might impact faculty members, there are a lot of options on the table, and there are different legal terms and classifications. If they are non-tenured employees, they would have to be terminated, and if they are tenured, furloughed.
“Due to declining enrollment, our student numbers have gone down, so the school board is asking me to put forth a plan to address that, in regards to staffing. A lot of our revenue is generated by student numbers, and they are going down.”
Cuomo explained, “We cannot furlough or terminate for economic reasons. Rather, we can reduce staff in certain areas. Special education, secondary English and language arts, social studies and secondary mathematics are the areas which can be reduced in staffing.”
He said that notified teachers can then appeal the decision on the basis of declining enrollment, and that the board can rescind it.
“This will be done in as equitable and as fair a way as possible. That is one of my core values.”
“The district’s budget is not finalized, we have applied to the state to increase taxes above the index,” Cuomo said. “This will come down to a final decision at the May 18th board meeting.”
Board member Chuck Place noted, “That decrease amounts to about a third of our student enrollment.”
Cuomo said that quite a few faculty and staff members have their non-district kids enrolled at Elk Lake.
“We have nickeled and dimed our budget to death,” he said.
“Our enrollment of students has gone down every year since 2001.”
The resolution was said to be available on Board Docs on the school website, under “2017 Resolution Recommending Curtailment of a Program(s)”.
A resignation for purposes of retirement was received from employee Kim Travis. Cuomo thanked her for her service and said that the district will move forward on finding a replacement, and to post and advertise a 12-Month business office secretary position, with duties and responsibilities including, but not limited to – accounts payable, purchasing, bidding, and other duties as assigned. The hourly rate will be $11.85, or current step level for transfers, plus benefits as per the ELESPA.
A revised school calendar for 2016-17 was approved, setting the last day of school for Friday, June 9, with graduation on Saturday, June 10.
An agreement was approved with Metz Culinary Services for cafeteria services for $94,476.56. This contract is somewhat better than the current school year’s contract, Cuomo said, even though costs for the cafeteria have increased by $23,000. “We are doing more with less,” he said.
According to Board Docs on the school website, the total costs for the school meal program, before school revenue, state and federal funding and reimbursements, and commodity credits are applied, is $368,996.31, and the $94,476.56 is the remainder after all the credits have been subtracted. The board approved the contract.
The board voted to assign Harold Bender as board treasurer. Bender accepted the re-appointment. Bender also will serve as the SCCTC board treasurer.

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