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Massena Central School officials dispute BOCES savings figures

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MASSENA - Massena Central School officials dispute figures presented by their accounts payable clerk, Rebecca Pomainville, on how much they’ll save by switching her position to the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services in 2012-13.

Ms. Pomainville had said during Thursday night’s public hearing on the proposed 2012-13 budget that numbers presented by district officials were not accurate and would not result in as much of a savings as they were predicting.

She also suggested district officials were violating New York state law by transferring the position to BOCES.

According to Ms. Pomainville, the position, if unchanged, would cost $108,000 - $78,000 for a 100 percent account clerk and $30,000 for a 40 percent keyboard specialist in 2012-13.

With the change, she said it would cost $40,000 in 2012-13 for a 60 percent BOCES employee, $75,500 for a 100 percent keyboard specialist and $21,000 for her unemployment fees, a total of $136,500 and an estimated loss in fiscal year 2013 of $28,500 over the current costs.

In 2013-14, Ms. Pomainville told board members Thursday, the cost would be $41,400 for a 60 percent BOCES employee, $78,143 for a 100 percent keyboard specialist and $10,500 for unemployment fees. The district would receive $22,500 in state aid reimbursement, which would make the total cost $107,543, an estimated savings of $4,238 in fiscal year 2014.

If the position remained unchanged in 2013-14, she said it would cost $80,730 for a 100 percent account clerk and $31,050 for a 40 percent keyboard, a total of $111,780.

The estimated two-year projection would be an overall loss of $24,263 for the district, Ms. Pomainville charged.

District officials, however, stood by their numbers on Friday.

They have said the transfer of the accounts payable position, psychologist, business manager and food service director to BOCES will save the district $167,636 in 2013-14. The district would receive 80 percent reimbursement one year after BOCES personnel began filling the positions.

Of that, they said, the transfer of the accounts payable clerk would provide a savings of $57,421.

District officials said they talked with BOCES officials on Friday and, based on that conversation, still believe that their decision to move the accounts payable position to BOCES is cost-effective and legal.

“We contacted BOCES this morning to resolve questions brought up at last night’s board of education meeting,” Superintendent of Schools Roger B. Clough II said.

Ms. Pomainville had suggested that, while there are some grounds for abolishing non-instructional positions such as hers, Massena Central’s move didn’t fall within the guidelines.

She said the proposed abolishment of the account clerk position is illegal because, according to state law, it “achieved no cost savings, hired someone else as a replacement or the abolition was otherwise motivated by bad faith.”

She said 60 percent of the accounts payable position will be moved to BOCES, leaving 40 percent for another district employee to handle.

District officials said her suggestions that the district would pay more for BOCES services and would use a current district employee to fill her role were untrue.

“Neither assertion is true,” board member Kevin F. Perretta said. “Mrs. Pomainville’s calculations include the salary and benefits for someone to replace her in the district. She is our only employee who carries the civil service title account clerk. We cannot move a person who is out of title into her job.”

He said Ms. Pomainville had been offered the BOCES position, which would have allowed her to continue her accounts payable work.

“She was offered the BOCES position. To be fair, the BOCES job pays $10,000 less and she is under no obligation to take it. If she fails to find a new job, she would be eligible for unemployment. But the move is still a savings for the district even if we were to pay her unemployment benefits,” Mr. Perretta said.

District officials maintain that their most conservative calculations show they will save an estimated $14,000 in the first year and $33,000 in each subsequent year by making the change.

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