Budget meetings to start
by Janet Schultz
Lewiston-Porter Superintendent of Schools Christopher R. Roser will retire at the end of the 2014-15 academic year.
Following an intense discussion the Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to approve his request to retire June 30, 2015.
Roser had initially given the board three dates for them to choose, based on the needs of the district. However, President Michael Gentile responded to Roser that it was his choice on the timing, and Roser choose to stay through the coming academic year to assist with critical hirings and the budget process, which once again contains hard decisions.
That decision was not popular with several board members who felt they didn't have the chance to discuss the dates.
"It's his retirement," said Gentile. "He doesn't have to ask us. His retirement (date) should not be at the discretion of the board."
"It's my 40th year and I wanted to make it through 40," said Roser on his decision to retire.
In other board business, Roser announced he has received several letters from the State Education Department indicating that the Lewiston-Porter School District owes the state a total of $479,856 that Lew-Port received in overpayment in State Aid for Capital Construction payments from the State Education Department.
According to Roser, it has to do with state aid calculations and changes in the formula. The payments date back to 2005. "Our current projects don't fall under the old guidelines and rules," explained Roser. "We won't run into any jeopardy with that.
"There are a lot of reasons (why) this took place, and some of it was poor planning," said Roser.
He also said that the district would either pay it all back by having funds taken from their upcoming payments from the state or pay it back on a three-year installment plan.
Roser and several board members attended the Common Core Forum held in Niagara Falls. He urged parents to make sure their children take the assessment tests and not to "boycott" them, as was the case in several districts last year.
"The state has heard the concerns about Common Core and some of the policies are being adjusted," said Roser. "But it really doesn't do any school any favor by boycotting those tests because it affects the rating of the school, the teachers and the administration. It's high stakes for this institution."
In other news, a presentation on the district's capital construction project ran longer than planned and a special recognition of students was not made.
However, Music Director Kevin Duncan made a presentation to the board and acknowledged 10 students who were named to All-State choir, band and orchestra - the most ever from Lew-Port.
Named to Junior High All-State Choir were Cody Swart, Jessica McNeely, Amrita Singh and Leah Panton.
Named to Junior High All-State Band were Emma Wachter and Catherine Bautista, and to All-State Orchestra, MacKenzie Rogers, Liam Mazierski, Thomas Blakelock and Loren Milne.
A number of these students are participating in the high school's upcoming musical, "Thoroughly Modern Millie." The play will run March 6 and 7 at 7 p.m., and March 8 at 2 p.m.
Deborah Parker was the only resident to speak, and she requested information on the procedure for Lewiston-Porter to annex several hundred parcels of land in the Town of Porter and currently part of the Wilson School District. The move would bring students from the Ransomville area, particularly Stevenson Elementary School, to the Lewiston-Porter School District.
The board explained that a formal request would have to be made from the residents to the Lew-Port Board of Education and also a request would have to be sent to the Wilson Central School District Board of Education.
"This is a long, detailed process," explained Roser.
Other actions Tuesday evening:
•The board tabled a number of financial transfers until Roser can clarify the reasons for the transfers.
•The board tabled the approval of the 2014-15-school calendar until the board and the Lewiston-Porter United Teachers can review it further.
•Accepted the retirement of special education teacher Peggy M. Barber effective June 30, and thanked her for her years of service.
•Accepted the retirement of science teacher Elizabeth Truax, effective June 30.
•Accepted the retirement of Joan Quarantillo, school monitor, effective June 30, 2015.
•Accepted the resignation of Robin Boos, a clerk typist, effective immediately.
•Tabled the appointments of coaches for the 2014-15 school year until the board begins work on the budget.
The board also set its budget development calendar as it begins work on the 2014-15 budget.
The first meeting will be held Tuesday, March 4, at 6 p.m. in the Community Resource Center. This is a public meeting and residents are invited to attend to become aware of the decisions the district will have to make in order to present a budget to the voters in May.
Other meetings are scheduled for March 11, 25 and April 8. The proposed budget will be made available to the public May 6; the public budget hearing will be held May 13; and the budget vote and board election will take place May 20.
The 2014-15 budget's biggest problem will be revenue. Roser is optimistic because the cuts Lew-Port made last year have set the district up in a better place for the coming year. However, the Gap Elimination Adjustment and a zero tax levy are causing Lew-Port's budget woes.
"We have no spending problem, but we have a revenue problem," said Gentile.
"Lack of adequate funding for education (from the state) is the problem," said Roser. "That's what we should talk to our legislators about."