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Grand Island Board of Education: Recommended 2013-14 budget has 2.67 percent tax levy increase

by jmaloni
Thu, Apr 18th 2013 04:00 pm

by Kathleen Duff

At its April 8 meeting, the Grand Island Board of Education heard the details of the recommended budget for the 2013-14 school year. Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Support Services Joe Giarrizzo presented the figure of $54,417,562, an increase of $1,337,773 over 2012-13.

Higher salaries and benefits "were a significant contributing factor to this increase," Giarrizzo said in his memo to Paul Hashem, interim superintendent of schools. He said that no cuts were made in staff or program in formulating this budget.

Giarrizzo is also recommending an increase in tax levy of $781,000 or 2.67 percent. Throughout this year's budget development process, he has said that the use of monies held in reserves and of fund balances has been helpful in balancing the budget. As years go on and these reserves decrease, the budget process will be even more challenging.

Local contributions to the Teacher Retirement System continue to increase year to year, and Giarrizzo said that the state may introduce a multi-year "smoothing initiative" which would give temporary relief to a district's annual payments to the system but then require a large "balloon payment" halfway through the cycle. In addition, the state would charge interest to the districts that participate. He would prefer that the state allow districts to keep funds in a TRS reserve account. This option is not currently allowed.

Grand Island will be receiving an additional $576,947 in state aid with $178,000 being saved from four staff retirements. Reductions in spending will amount to $554,287.

The recommended budget will go to public vote on Tuesday, May 21, which will be held in the high school gym from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

In another agenda item, Hashem spoke about the hiring process for the open position of high school principal. Dr. James Dempsey is now filling that position as an interim principal.

Hashem said 32 applications have been reviewed by the administrative staff and that those will be pared down for a first round of interviews coming the last week in April or the first week in May. Interviews of three or four candidates will happen in a second round in early May with an introduction of the final candidate to the Board of Education on May 13. Trustees will vote on the superintendent's final recommendation on May 20.

The new high school principal should begin work around July 1.

Regarding the district's extensive capital project, Giarrizzo indicated that the State Education Department is reviewing Grand Island's project right now and that approval should come within two weeks. "The project will then pick up speed through the summer," Giarrizzo stated.

In Good News, the Parents as Reading Partners program is underway at Charlotte Sidway School. Also, the school's annual kindergarten orientation program is scheduled for May 14.

The next meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 22, at the Grand Island High School, 1100 Ransom Road. The 2013-14 budget vote is Tuesday, May 21, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the high school gym. The annual tenure and retiree reception is Monday, June 10.

Board of Education Trustees

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