Story and Photos by Alice Gerard
Senior Contributing Writer
Grand Island voters on Tuesday unofficially passed the $73,727,888 Grand Island Central School District budget for the 2023-24 school year. In addition, they approved a proposition to purchase five new vehicles for the school district (three 65-passenger buses, one 29-passenger bus, and two Ford F350 4x4 trucks for the Buildings and Grounds Department). Also, the voters approved the establishment of a new 15-year capital reserve fund to replace the fund that expired this year.
In addition, Ashli Dreher and Susan Marston won reelection as Board of Education trustees.
These votes were (budget items):
√ Proposition 1 (budget): 959-620
√ Proposition 2 (bus purchase): 979-593
√ Proposition 3 (establishment of a new capital reserve fund): 925-641
(Board of trustees election)
√ Susan Marston: 949
√ Ashli Dreher: 835
√ Andrew Grinchinshin: 704
√ Jennifer Chin: 545
One issue that was not included in the 2023-24 budget was zero-emission bus reporting, which has been delayed by the state for a year. According to Dr. Rubie Harris, assistant superintendent for school business and finance, many questions about the transition to electric school buses remain unresolved.
“I anticipate that there will still be lots of questions,” Harris said. “In the 2024-25 year, my assumption is that they will have some sort of reporting requirement for school districts, just to say, ‘Have you done the following things? Have you done a study with National Grid? Have you had someone come out and do a site study?’ ”
How meals at school are paid for is still unclear in New York. According to Harris, the newly enacted universal meals for all students does not mean that every student will eat for free.
“What it looks like they are doing is reviewing the qualifications for the community eligibility program and the possible percentage (of qualifying students) that you must be at for each building directly certified to participate in that program,” she said. “It’s also possible that one school district could qualify, and another one that is across the way or across the bridge could not. There are very specific guidelines that will be hopefully updated in the coming weeks and months that provide districts with a little bit more information.”
In addition to voting, town residents also had the opportunity to view the districtwide art show, with contributions from all five schools: Sidway Elementary School, Kaegebein Elementary School, Huth Road Elementary School, Veronica Connor Middle School and Grand Island High School.