The Depew School District is fine-tuning scenarios under consideration to close a nearly $2.2 million gap in the 2014-15 proposed budget, including how to phase in teacher layoffs, if necessary.
Superintendent Jeffrey Rabey on Tuesday night offered an update, outlining for the Board of Education a deeper look at how one budget-balancing measure could be implemented.
At last month’s board meeting, Rabey offered four options to close the deficit, including laying off 15 to 20 teachers and staff, offering a retirement buyout, reaching a contract agreement with the Depew Teachers Organization and hoping that state aid would be increased.
Breaking it down into four rounds, Rabey outlined a strategy for staff reductions, if that option should be chosen. The first round would save the district $627,910 and include trimming the administrative staff, which already has been done with the departure of the director of instructional services. It also would redeploy faculty to increase the average class size from 19 to 20 students and re-evaluate needs of high school equipment, buildings/grounds, transportation and technology. This round would result in five layoffs.
Round two of reductions would include 5.5 teacher layoffs and further class-size increases for a savings of $522,504. The third round would cut deeper into faculty and technology and affect the Enrichment Program for a $532,113 savings and five layoffs, while round four would reduce more staff and affect school bus runs, netting $485,215 more in savings and 4.5 layoffs.
Rabey said that the overall goal is to protect student programming, continue to provide reasonable class sizes, maximize district resources and evaluate needs vs. wants. He blamed Depew’s budget woes on salaries and benefits that are expected to increase about $1.5 million next year, decreasing state aid and the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment. Also, after the formula is applied, Depew’s allowable maximum tax levy increase is 1 percent under the state’s Tax Levy Cap.
Rabey would not recommend exceeding the cap, explaining that doing so would increase the chances of the budget being voted down. Of the 28 districts that attempted to exceed the cap in 2013, only seven were successful, Rabey said.
He added that Depew residents may not be able to afford more than a 1 percent tax increase. Depew is ranked seventh lowest for income of 23 county districts. Also, the district’s three-year average for free and reduced-price lunch for kindergarten through grade six is 44.32 percent, the fourth highest in the county, he said.
The updated budget also includes the purchase of two 66-passenger buses and two 22-passenger buses with a $12,000 trade-in for a total of $303,264. The money would come from the Vehicle Purchase Reserve Fund that voters approved in 2009, meaning the expenditure wouldn’t affect the budget.
The spending plan will be presented to the public at 6:30 p.m., May 13, in the cafeteria at Depew High School, 5201 Transit Road, while the annual School Board election and budget vote will be held from noon to 9 p.m. May 20, at Cayuga Heights Elementary School, 1780 Como Park Blvd.
Those interested in running for School Board may obtain petition forms and information from District Clerk Jessica Neischel in the district office at the high school. Petitions are due by 5 p.m. April 21.
The board’s next regular meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. April 22 in the high school cafeteria.