by Kathleen Duff
The Grand Island Board of Education began its Monday evening meeting with a presentation on the proposed 2014-15 school budget adopted by the board on April 22. Assistant Superintendent of School Business Services Joe Giarrizzo outlined the two propositions to be voted on by residents on Tuesday, May 20.
In brief, Giarrizzo reiterated Proposition 1, the budget appropriation in the amount of $55,816, 937, an increase of 2.57 percent over the 2013-14 budget. If passed, Proposition 2 authorizes the district to purchase school buses and other vehicles, including a new snow plow for clearing the expanded sidewalks at the Ransom Road complex. The district replaces buses according to a regular schedule. This proposition is in the amount of $655,280. Voters will also elect three school board trustees from a slate of four candidates to serve three-year terms.
Giarrizzo stated the administration has kept "still optimal" class sizes with classrooms at Charlotte Sidway Elementary School (primary education) numbering 20-21 children; at Huth Road Elementary and Kaegebein Elementary, 21-28; and at the middle and high schools, low to high 20s. Details on the budget are available on the district website (k12.ginet.org) and in printed copies at all school buildings, the public library and at the district office.
Board urged to consider keeping music position
Also regarding the budget, several community members spoke to the board during the public comment portion of the agenda. One student and four parents urged the administration to consider keeping one music department position lost to attrition for the upcoming school year. High school vocal teacher Carolyn Lokken will retire in in June, and her position will not be filled. The comments to the board expressed concern over the impact one fewer teacher would have on the quality and depth of the music program. The district has been named to the list of "Best Communities for Music Education" by the NAMM Foundation for three years running.
In news about the district's multimillion-dollar capital project, Giarrizzo asked the board to approve a construction change order in the amount of $90,000 to $100,000 to be taken from a project contingency fund. The money is needed to stabilize soil in the new athletic field.
"This is a found condition," Giarrizzo explained. The board approved the change order with a 7-0 vote. By law, the dollar amount of the change order required board approval. The board previously authorized Superintendent of Schools Dr. Teresa Lawrence to approve change orders up to $35,000 without board action.
In addition, Giarrizzo told trustees that asbestos abatement is finished in the high school auditorium and that abatement will commence at Kaegebein Elementary in June. The board also unanimously approved two recommendations from Giarrizzo and the district's Naming Committee. One recommendation asks that the new high school athletic complex be named for H. David Myers, long-time high school athletic director. The other asks that the renovated high school auditorium be named "Grand Viking Theater." Both venues will have new signage displaying the names.
In her superintendent's report, Lawrence praised retiring Erie 1 BOCES Superintendent Donald Ogilvie for his 43 years in public education at the local level. She also told trustees that the district's web and email addresses will be transitioning to a simpler, more recognizable format over the next several weeks.