Orchard Park school programs, staffing could be impacted in closing gap - The Buffalo News
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Orchard Park school programs, staffing could be impacted in closing gap

Programs, services and staff in Orchard Park Central School District will be “heavily impacted” when the district tries to close a $2.22 million budget gap, Superintendent Matthew P. McGarrity said Tuesday night.

District officials presented a first draft of the 2014-15 budget that carries on existing programming. It would amount to $90.04 million. But the $20,000 increase in state aid proposed under the governor’s budget is not nearly enough to offset increases in costs.

“There’s no question, when we look at this gap that we have, that programs and services and staffing will be heavily impacted this year,” McGarrity said.

He said in recent years the district has had to deal with various reductions.

“You get to a certain point, where do you go to try make up that gap?” he said.

He urged parents to contact their state legislators and implore them to increase state aid.

“Please take the time to contact them,” he said.

The increase in spending, without an increase in staff or programs, from the current budget to the first draft of next year’s budget is 4.63 percent, said Jeffrey Petrus, assistant superintendent for business.

Building administrators had asked for at least 12 additional positions, payment for the full cost of girls ice hockey and reinstatement of the freshman football program for next year, he said.

In some cases the new positions would reinstate positions that have been cut in the past. Petrus did not include them in the first draft of the 2014-15 budget. But he did include $3.8 million in fund balance and reserves.

The tax cap for next year’s budget is 3.27 percent, or $1.79 million, he said.

He said the administration has been actively looking for areas to save money. Initiatives in recent years in energy, telephone, health care and a retirement incentive save nearly $3 million a year, and the district will look at a self-funded workers’ compensation program to save more money, he said.

Petrus said the district still is not receiving $3.8 million in state aid that was withheld during the state’s budget crisis several years ago.

The state withheld money from all districts under its GAP elimination adjustment, to eliminate its budget gap. But not all of the money has been restored.

“It belongs to Orchard Park if the state aid formula ran true,” he said.

Work on the budget continues, and changes will be made before it is presented to voters in May.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com

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