By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Board of Education trustees heard the first news on the 2016-17 budget for the Grand Island Central School District on Monday.
At a regular board meeting held in the Grand Island High School Professional Development Room, Assistant Superintendent for Finance Robert McDow made a presentation to the board with preliminary budget numbers for the next fiscal year.
A summary of expenditures forecasts spending at $60,945,542, or a $2,831,405 increase over the current budget, a 4.87 percent increase.
The budget forecasts a real property tax levy of $33,086,091, up $1.7 million, or 5.55 percent. The local tax levy cap is 3.4 percent.
"We have to find a way to get to 3.4 percent," McDow said. "But we have a lot of unknowns now and our budget is very conservative."
Numbers will change over the next 6-8 weeks, McDow said, once certain costs are known. This is just a rollover budget from one year to the next, he told the trustees.
McDow said a goal is to "find a way to get Tier One in. Those are things we need, so we have some work to do."
One unknown is the teacher costs. The teachers have until March 14 to announce their retirements.
The board assumes $850,000 in salary increases, a $357,000 increase (5.9 percent) in health care; $2.5 million in debt service; and $283,000 in retirement systems.
The major budget increases include a $1.8 million increase in debt service and debt service interest due to the $51 million capital project; $520,032 (3.3 percent) for teacher salaries; $376,288 (5.9 percent) for the health insurance program.
The major budget increases totaled $3 million.
Basic budget decreases totaled $429,330, mostly from a decline in the costs for the retirement programs.
Enrollment projections will see a decline in enrollment at Sidway (426 to 382) as a big first-grade class moves up to second grades at Huth Road Elementary and Kaegebein Elementary. In fact, Huth's second-grade enrollment jumps from 92 to 129 and Kaegebein, 82 to 106.
Total enrollment at Huth rises from 402 to 429; at Kaegebein, 386 to 389. Enrollment at Veronica Connor Middle School drops from 715 to 694, largely because of a decline in sixth grade from 258 to 205.
Projections for high school enrollment drops from 990 to 962.
The school administration divided budget impact items from Tier One to Tier Three in priority.
Among the Tier One priorities:
A .4 technology teacher at the middle school and a .5 technology teacher at the high school High School Principal Dan Quartley said the high school is "right now ... just looking at getting our numbers taken care of" because student demand for classes outpaces sections available.
Other Tier One priorities:
•.4 art teacher in the middle school
•.4 health teacher in the middle school
•.5 physical education teacher in the middle school
•.5 FAC teacher in the middle school
•A special education teacher at Sidway
•A library clerk in the elementary schools
•A human resources director
•DECA program increase in the high school
•A building and grounds custodian to take care of the 32,000 square feet of new building space
Special Budget Study Workshops
•April 4: soonest possible budget adoption
•April 19: mandatory budget adoption date
•April 25: All-Island PTA meeting
•Feb. 22: regular board meeting
•May 9: budget public hearing
•May 17: community budget vote and board trustee election