Grand Island Board of Education: Budget concerns airedby jmaloni
by Kathleen Duff
Monday evening the Grand Island Board of Education continued the 2012-13 budget process. Superintendent Robert Christmann pushed the budget adoption date out one week from March 26 to April 2 because of possible changes in state aid. Albany indicates that the state budget will be adopted on or even before its April 1 deadline.
This budget year, the board and district administrators are struggling with a possible $7 million-plus gap between expenditures and possible revenues. Christmann indicated that state aid may be higher than previously thought because of $200 million in grant money that may be freed up to become regular state aid to school districts. Year to year, the fluctuation of state aid is closely watched by all school districts. Christmann noted that Grand Island lost $3 million in state aid from 2009 to 2011.
Now in phase three of the budget process, the Board of Education and administrators foresee a possible $1,110,508 shortfall in revenues needed to fund a possible $54 million-plus budget for the coming school year. A possible tax rate impact is 2.4 percent.
Christmann detailed various budgetary concerns, which include:
•74 cents for every dollar spent going to personnel costs.
•Class sizes remaining reasonable - upper limits for elementary being 29 students per class and secondary student load being no more than 145 students per day for secondary teachers
•Health insurance coverage on a family plan is $17,000 per insured employee.
Trustees will further discuss the budget on Monday, March 19. Christmann encourages residents to visit www.k12.ginet.org for updates and board of education documents. Trustee Emily Ciraolo is creating a budget Facebook page.
In other agenda items, Christmann said that he and district Transportation Director Jack Burns met with a member of the community who is interested in assisting the district's plans for a new transportation center (bus garage). The town resident would act as a volunteer advisor. At the March 19 board meeting, architects and construction managers will update trustees on capital project plans.
In other school news:
The board approved acceptance of grant money in the amount of $7,834 for a program called the "Primary Project" at Charlotte Sidway School. Sidway Principal Denise Dunbar said the funds would pay for aides to help children who have difficulty adjusting to a school environment. "This is an effective intervention for kids," Dunbar said.
The board recognized the accomplishments of high school and middle school students who competed in this year's version of Tech Wars. Technology teacher Carl Koppman and his students provided live and video demonstrations of their various award winning designs and working models that captured several first and second place awards, including first place among all high schools.
The next Grand Island Board of Education meeting is Monday, March 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the Veronica Connor Middle School Little Theater, 1100 Ransom Road. Another regular meeting is Monday, April 2, at 6:30 p.m. in the middle school Little Theater.