October 25, 2021

School budget votes coming

Cortland, Homer face changes from closures and charter

Kevin Conlon

Homer Elementary School in a Cortland Standard file photo from May 2019

Zero — that’s how much the proposed spending for Cortland Enlarged City School District will differ from last year’s.

Voters decide the fate May 21 of 10 school district budgets in the greater Cortland area. Cortland, certainly, faces some of the biggest changes, in part because it’s the area’s largest school district, but also because it plans to close two elementary schools — Parker and Virgil — and convert the remaining three to grade centers.

Those changes are why the total spending remains flat in the proposed budget for 2019-20, said district Superintendent Michael J. Hoose.

“The only reason we were able to keep (the budget) flat was because the board decided to close the two schools,” Hoose said Thursday. “Had they not done that, the budget would have increased by as much as a million dollars.”

The total proposed budget for 2019-20 will remain the same as last year’s budget at $49.6 million, although the property tax levy will increase 2 percent to $17.6 million. The property tax rate will also increase 2 percent to $18.08 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

According to a budget brochure for 2019-20, closing the two schools will reduce the district’s dependence on reserve accounts to balance the books. The board also eliminated the positions of 14 retiring staff members.

Hoose blames a reduction in state funding for the need to increase the tax levy. He argues that the state legislature is blocking the state education funding formula from running as designed, costing the Cortland district up to $1 million for the current year, thus forcing it to fill the gap.

Hoose also identified a 7 percent increase in health insurance costs as another factor, and an influx of new students who require high-cost placement outside the school district.

The board will have a public hearing on the proposed budget at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Kaufman Center on Valley View Drive.


Homer Central School District is building its first budget since the Truxton Academy Charter School became active, taking a share of the district’s state aid.

“More than $483,000 has been designated for the students who are anticipated to attend for the 2019-2020 school year,” district Superintendent Tom Turck wrote in a district newsletter. “The charter school impact equates to about a 3% tax increase; however, the district was able to keep the tax levy impact low by eliminating two teaching positions based on enrollment and savings due to the breakage from eight retirements.”


Voters can meet the board candidates from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Dryden Elementary School Cafeteria.


The Groton Central School District faces a state-mandated review next year of its building conditions, and seeks to establish of a capital reserve fund, where it can stash leftover money from its budget to help defray the costs — and tax increase — of any capital projects the building review may suggest, Superintendent Margo Martin wrote in a newsletter.

The district plans a public hearing and opportunity to meet school board candidates at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the district office, 400 Peru Road, Groton.


A public hearing and chance to meet school board candidates will begin 6 p.m. Tuesday at the high school library.


A public hearing on the budget will be 7:30 p.m. Mondy at the high school library.


The tax levy increase, 8.1% is still below the allotted 20.24% cap, according to the school budget. The high levy cap is because of a compressor plant that was added to the tax roll last year. Tax rates increase 3.1%.

A hearing on the plan will be 6 p.m. Tuesday in the school’s library/media center.


A public hearing will be 6 p.m. Monday at the junior-senior high school library.

When to vote, and where

Cincinnatus: Noon to 8 p.m., large gymnasium foyer.
Cortland: Noon to 9 p.m. at the Kaufman Center for Cortland residents; Virgil Town Hall for Virgil residents; and Cortlandville Town Hall for Cortlandville residents.
DeRuyter: Noon to 9 p.m. in the large gym foyer.
Dryden: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the district auditorium.
Groton: Noon to 9 p.m. in the district office at Groton Junior-Senior High School.
Homer: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Homer High School old music building.
Marathon: Noon to 9 p.m. in Room 107 of the high school.
McGraw: Noon to 8 p.m. in the high school library.
Moravia: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Board of Education conference room.
Tully: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the junior-senior high school library.