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Board of Education: Possible budget reductions discussed

by jmaloni
Fri, Mar 2nd 2012 06:10 pm

by Kathleen Duff

At the Monday evening meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education, Superintendent of Schools Robert Christmann gave trustees a list of possible reductions in spending for the proposed 2012-13 budget. Administrators and trustees are struggling to close a $7 million-plus gap between spending needs and revenues coming into the district.

Speaking of the areas for possible reduction, Christmann emphasized that "None are recommendations," but that he wanted to provide "a roadmap for the board to work on."

The targeted areas may include:

•Intramural sports: $35,000

•Printing of one edition of The Bridge newsletter: $3,000

•District supplies (office and classroom): $80,000

•Teacher retirements: $300,000

•Swimming pool expenses (Close the pool from April to August): $30,000

•Special Education tuitions to other districts: $150,000

Christmann reiterated that the proposed budget is $2.3 million higher than the current year's, including a $129,000 mandated increase for the Employee Retirement System, $239,250 for the Teacher Retirement System, $1,068,358 for staff salaries, and $115,500 for utilities.

The following could reduce the proposed budget shortfall:

•$921,000 additional tax levy (3.25 percent) due to population growth on the Island.

•Additional sales tax monies due to influx of Canadian shoppers to the area and higher enrollments

•$1.9 million from debt service, retirement and employee benefit reserves.

Christmann and the board continue to encourage the public to attend BOE meetings and budget forums during this planning season and also point to the updates and BOE document details, which have been posted to www.k12.ginet.org. The supportive documents for BOE meetings have been posted to the website in compliance with the open meetings law amendment as of Feb. 1. The Board of Education will adopt a budget by March 26. Public vote is scheduled for May 15.

In other business, Christmann said Cannon Design and Construction Management will update school officials and the board on the capital improvement project at a meeting on March 17. The district is targeting September for the State Education Department to receive the project plans. Approval would come back to the district in six to eight weeks. The project would go out to bid in February 2013 with groundbreaking on the high school addition and athletic complex in spring of that year.

Regarding personnel, administrators introduced the new Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Karen Miller-Cuddy replaces Dr. Karen Karmazin. She has served as the Lew-Port Middle School principal since spring of 2011 and has worked for Erie 1 BOCES and Niagara-Wheatfield and North Tonawanda schools. Michael Lauria has been approved as the new assistant principal at the high school. Lauria is currently a science teacher in the Sweet Home school district.

In the Superintendent's Report, Christmann told trustees that sheriffs will be radar-monitoring cars near the Ransom Road complex to enforce the 25 mph speed limit.

Christmann also warned that residents have been receiving phone calls regarding a possible SAT exam prep scam. He said that no one should be giving their credit card numbers to any parties calling regarding SATs.

Finally, in the "Good News" portion of the meeting, President David Goris announced that Eric Sander will be inducted into the National Technical Honor Society on March 15. He also commended teacher Maureen Gambino for her recent quick response to an elementary school student who was choking.

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