by Carreen Schroeder
A sense of relief and celebration was in the air at the May 21 Niagara-Wheatfield Board of Education meeting. Unlike the past several meetings, the Adult Learning Center was virtually empty with just a few scattered residents in attendance.
For those on hand, the sentiment seemed to be unanimous with congratulating the community for coming out to vote, with special thanks going to the 2,559 members in the community who voted in favor of the $64.6 million N-W budget for the 2014-15 school year. Congratulations also went out to newly elected board members, Darren Sneed and Gina Terbot and incumbent, Christopher Peters.
Peters congratulated Superintendent Dr. Lynn Fusco, along with Business Administrator Allison Brady for the tremendous number of hours they dedicated working on the budget.
Sneed thanked the public for coming out and for supporting the budget but also thanked everyone who took a stand stating, "you had conviction in your heart and you did what you had to do." With regard to a somewhat empty room, he urged the public to continue to attend board meetings and support the school board saying, "we have to keep this place packed with people."
Board of Education President Steven Sabo thanked everyone for coming out to vote stating, "I know in neighboring districts who have a higher population than us, they had maybe about a quarter of what we had come out. I am very happy with the outcome." Fusco echoed that sentiment, stating it was a very emotional night "for everyone who has been close to the vote and to those activities that were associated with it. The passage of the 2014-15 school budget is just the first step toward a better financial health for the district. We have a long path to walk but we are on our way."
In other news:
•Some discussion took place to clarify the proposed cost of $34,071 to purchase four network printers in an effort to decrease the number of classroom printers. With this replacement, the district will save electric costs as well as costs in maintenance and repairs, cartridges and ink. Starting at the middle and high school levels, the eventual goal is to replace classroom printers district-wide. Currently, there are printers in every middle and high school classroom.
•Board member Richard Sirianni asked for updates with regard to the Veterans Tax Exemption and was assured by both Fusco and Brady that as new information is available, it will be presented to the board for discussion.
•In response to cuts for the funding of the high school musical, Sabo will be actively calling on N-W alumni to help him sponsor and organize a faculty alumni recital this summer, to raise funds to bring this program back. Said Sabo, "I was in musical theater throughout my high school and college. I don't want to see us lose that."
Sabo, along with high school students, will be meeting with State Sen. George Maziarz at the end of June. The students will have the opportunity to experience lobbying officials.
Although the 2014-15 school budget has passed and relief seems to be felt districtwide, Sirianni urged the community to continue to be actively involved stating, "the fact is, next May is coming so we need help from out there to try to find ways to increase our revenues. We need to find ways to cut costs. I'm not talking about the elimination of jobs because I believe every job you eliminate - like a teacher - it affects the students, class sizes and the learning process. I'm talking about finding ways to decrease our cost. The bottom line - it's about the kids."