Friday night lights, as well as a music teacher, have been restored to Frontier Central School District’s budget.
The School Board plans to approve the $74.27 million budget Tuesday.
Administrators last Thursday presented dozens of cuts, which would have resulted in the layoffs of nearly 12 full-time positions. Another proposal was to save $12,000 or more on electricity by turning off the lights on outdoor night sporting contests and switching them to daylight hours.
But the School Board asked that night games be restored. Some additional supervision also was restored because night games require more supervision, interim Superintendent Paul G. Hashem said. The board also asked that a music teacher and the nurse practitioner position be restored.
Several months ago, the budget gap was more than $4 million, and changes made this week narrowed the gap to $59,727. Additional savings in that amount will be recommended by Tuesday, when the board is expected to adopt the budget.
To offset the additions, cuts totaling nearly $150,000 were made Monday, including subtracting $49,000 from the superintendent’s line. The board plans to appoint a new superintendent at Tuesday’s meeting, and board President Janet MacGregor Plarr said the package for the new leader will cost less than the previous superintendent.
The board also eliminated after-school buses except for detention.
Board members considered using $1.25 million additional in unexpended fund balance, or taking up to $700,000 out of the workers’ compensation reserve fund. They decided not to touch those funds. Plarr noted that an audit by the State Comptroller’s Office criticized the district for using the workers’ compensation reserve to lower taxes.
The district also has learned that Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded its bond rating from Aa3 to A1. The company said the rating “reflects the district’s significant financial deterioration, following three consecutive years of reserve draws.”
Frontier is facing “structurally imbalanced general fund operations” and depends on state aid, Moody’s said. One thing that could make the rating go up would be operating surpluses, it said.
Board members had questions about specific line items during Monday’s special meeting on the budget, asking if students need the agenda/assignment books purchased by the district and about increases in supply accounts.
“I’m just a bit stupefied,” Plarr said. “We know we’re in tough times, why are we increasing these little bits?”
More than 25 positions would be abolished, but 9.93 teachers and staff would be laid off because of reorganizations and retirements.
A number of Middle School teachers asked the board Monday not to eliminate teaching teams in seventh and eighth grades, which is where some of the cuts would be made.
“It’s not that anyone isn’t valued,” Hashem said. “But where do you get the money?”