by Kathleen Duff
The 2013-2014 school year budget was discussed again at the Feb. 11 meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education. Assistant Superintendent for Business and Finance Joe Giarrizzo told trustees that he has adjusted his previous budget gap estimate from $1,514,000 to $1,644,199. The increase is due to higher wage and salary estimates for the coming year. Basically, 68 percent of the budget forecast increase is due to step increases in salaries. Giarrizzo also indicated that the mandated percentage that the district must contribute to the Teacher Retirement System is 16.25 percent, up 4.14 percent from the last reported estimate.
He said that district reserves are used to close budget gaps, and that right now, he estimates the funds could last 6 to 7 years. He also cautioned, though, that if expenditures increase and revenues decrease at a higher rate than they are now, the reserves could be used up completely.
In an unrelated item, Giarrizzo reported that last week's power outage at the Ransom Road complex was due to problems with National Grid transformers and had nothing to do with equipment in the schools. He said the power company was very good in keeping him and buildings and grounds staff updated on the situation until the problem was resolved.
In another agenda item, Director of Instructional Technology Molly Marren told the board about the Tivoli Energy Management system, which will be used by the district in managing energy usage throughout the district. The software will generate power usage reports and formulate ways to conserve power when computers and other high load devices are not at peak usage. Marren said she is working with Erie 1 BOCES in using the new system.
Finally, the board voted to reinstate the hall walker program at Grand Island High Schools as a Community Education course effective immediately. Previously, hallwalking had been suspended as a paid course with supervision.