Building a budget, part 2

Small increase will lead to painful reductions


The Baldwin Union Free School District plans to increase its budget by a little more than $1 million in 2013-14. But this relatively small rise would usher in a sequence of cuts and reductions that would reverberate across the school system. As many as 15 teaching jobs may be eliminated next year, as well as beloved programs such the 80-year-old tradition of Sportsnite.

A Board of Education budget work session at Baldwin Senior High School on Feb. 13 focused on the second of three sections of the budget — Program, which includes teacher salaries, school supplies and other expenses directly related to classroom activity. (A Feb. 6 work session explored administrative and capital costs, and a meeting slated for Feb. 27 will be a summary of revenue.)

Ed Cullen, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, explained that spending would bump up from this year’s total of $92.7 million to $93.7 in 2013-14. Program costs would account for about 77 percent of the budget, he said, adding of the increase, “This is slightly over 1 percent, which is next to nothing. Inflation is close to 3 percent.”

Baldwin has been tightening and retightening its belt over the past several budget seasons, and Cullen said that even though the overall spending plan would be larger next year, the modesty of the increase would mean significant cuts when the money is actually spent.

Referring to “Teaching salaries,” the seventh slide in a 42-slide presentation, Cullen said that the $1.3 million decrease in the category derived largely from cutting loose a number of teachers. Asked after the meeting how many positions would be at risk, Cullen said, “The rough order of magnitude is 15.” He also explained that that a $700,000 decrease in salaries at Baldwin Middle School (see chart) would come from shortening the day from nine periods to eight. “We would need less staff at the middle school,” Cullen said.

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