By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
A school aid increase from the state isn’t what it appears to be, Board of Education trustees heard Monday.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Rubie Harris and Superintendent Dr. Brian Graham presented the first draft of the 2020-21 school district budget to the board Monday in the Grand Island High School Professional Development Room. Harris told the trustees that while state Foundation Aid appears to increase $2 million, other aid declines almost the same amount. Harris said the state’s aid numbers make it look like the district is receiving $2 million more in aid, but, no, instead it’s an increase of a more modest .55%.
That’s because “The governor has basically called Foundation Aid something different” by lumping other funds into it, said Trustee Glenn Bobeck.
The actual Foundation Aid increase is only $63,833 more than last year.
According to the administration’s presentation, the first draft of the school budget comes in at $66 million, with revenue before the tax levy at $29 million. With an allowable increase in the tax levy capped at 2.26% this year and an anticipated tax levy maximum increase of $35 million, the district has a budget gap of $2.2 million.
Graham said a workshop meeting will precede the Feb. 24 board meeting at 7 p.m. where he and Harris ”will fill in some of the numbers” and try to describe to trustees the state’s aid formula and how it will affect Grand Island.
“We will all be frustrated,” he said.
At the Monday, March 9, budget input session, the district will incorporate into the budget newer state aid projections (if available), anticipated retirements and updated expenditures.
The board can adopt a budget as soon as Monday, April 6, with its last meeting to adopt a budget Tuesday, April 21.
A public hearing on the budget will take place May 11. The school budget vote (and Board of Education trustee election) is Tuesday, May 19.
A bus driver in the Grand Island Central School District’s Transportation Department was praised for coming to the aid of an elderly resident recently.
In the “Recognition and Good News” portion of Monday’s Grand Island Board of Education meeting, Transportation Supervisor Theresa Alizadeh said she had received a “Thank you” email from a native Islander now living in Kansas. The message thanked the “kind, caring bus driver who helped my dad this week.”
A 93-year-old man on Wallace Drive had fallen in the snow at the end of his driveway and could not get up. Cynthia Moyer, who drives the Sidway bike bus run in Sandy Beach, stopped to lend a hand along with a caring neighbor.
Moyer “keeps a great, watchful eye” on the community during her route, Alizadeh said. “All of our drivers do that.”
“We have wonderful, caring bus drivers who start our kids’ day out right and end it right,” added Board of Education President Ashli Dreher.
Grand Island High School student ambassador Zayan Shaheen reported to the board that Grand Island rugby will hold its annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, in the Grand Island High School cafeteria before the Choral Kaleidoscope Concert.
•Monday to Friday, Feb. 17 to 21 – February recess.
•Monday, Feb. 24 – The Grand Island Central School District Board of Education will meet at 7 p.m. in the Professional Development Room of Grand Island High School, 1100 Ransom Road.
•Monday, March 9 – The Board of Education will meet at 7:30 p.m. in the Professional Development Room and conduct its second budget input session.
The next regular meeting of the Grand Island Board of Education will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, in the Professional Development Room of Grand Island High School, 1100 Ransom Road.
Board of Education Trustees
Send comments to the board at [email protected].