by Kathleen Duff
The Grand Island Board of Education unanimously approved the 2011-12 school budget proposal in the amount of $51,859,079 after many weeks of cost-cutting angst from a revenue-scarce New York state budget.
The shortfall between expenditures and revenues amounts to $481,557 and results in an estimated tax increase of 1.7 percent. The budget goes before Grand Island voters on Tuesday, May 17.
"This is the end of a long process ... in 700-plus school districts around the state," prefaced Superintendent of Schools Robert Christmann, as he outlined the final numbers in the proposed 2011-12 Grand Island school district budget at Monday evening's Board of Education meeting.
The Little Theater at Veronica E. Connor Middle School was once again filled to capacity with interested parties from the public. As Christmann went through the numbers, he called attention to those areas over which residents had voiced concern during the budget process:
•Foreign language classes for seventh-graders - Spanish only every other day. French will not be offered in seventh grade.
•Art program - Retained exactly as it is running during the current school year.
•Home and career electives - Retained as running during the current school year.
•High school pool usage - The pool will be closed from April to June 15. (Originally, administrators had considered closing the pool from April to August).
•Class sizes will not increase in 2011-12.
•There will be no elementary summer school program.
•The high school and middle school summer school program will be limited to graduation requirements. Students from other districts may attend and will pay tuition and provide their own transportation.
Christmann applauded teachers, administrators and school related personnel who worked cooperatively to spread out the impact of the reductions over all areas and commended the salary freezes and givebacks on the part of district office administrators, building-level administrators and school related personnel. He also pointed to the $1.5 million that will be pulled from the district's reserve funds to aid in closing the budget gap.
Christmann thanked the board for its many weeks of work and again emphasized that the budget process was a difficult one. "We are extremely respectful of our taxpayers who fund our schools," he said.
In the Good News portion of the agenda, trustees viewed a video on the Lady Vikings recent trip to the Far West Regional championship game on April 4. The team advanced to the state tournament in Troy, losing in the semifinals. The board also heard proclamations and resolutions from State Sen. Mark Grisanti and Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick, congratulating the team and applauding coach Jen Banker on her 200 victories in her tenure with Grand Island.
Board of Education Trustees
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