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More cuts made in budget; final proposal due April 12

East Aurora school administrators slashed $673,300 from the district's preliminary budget, leading to a smaller spending increase of 3.9 percent from the earlier projection of 6.7 percent.

Those proposed cuts to next year's budget also lower the amount of the tax levy increase to 2.9 percent, down from the 7.4 percent that was projected earlier this month.

"People seem pleased that the levy increase was reduced," said Daniel Brunson, board president, during Wednesday's School Board meeting. "We seem very close to a budget figure we can all live with."

The latest budget revisions put total appropriations at $24.8 million, which includes the proposed cuts. The board did not vote on the spending reductions but plans to finalize budget figures at its April 12 meeting, with budget adoption by the board set for April 26.

The budget cuts come from an assortment of items. Included in the recommended cuts are plans to pay for the district's share of the Board of Cooperative Educational Services capital project next year with money left over from the current school budget. Savings also are expected from changing to a different telephone service company, in addition to returning East Aurora special-education students to district schools instead of paying for them to attend facilities in other districts.

The board also backed the administration's suggestion to delay restoration of two deteriorating Roycroft statues outside Main Street School, which would cost about $15,000 each.

"We wanted to look at ways [to cut] that would have a minimal impact on class sizes," Superintendent James Bodziak said.

Three potential teacher retirements would result in a $120,000 net savings after hiring new teachers at lower salaries. The district plans to save $50,000 by not replacing a full-time equivalent kindergarten/sixth-grade teacher who is retiring.

In addition, the athletic department no longer plans to rent indoor practice space at Sahlens Sports Park in Elma. Just two kayaks instead of six will be bought for the physical-education program to complement borrowed canoes.

Also, overtime costs in the buildings and grounds staff will be pared, along with $10,000 allocated for staff development that the district plans to cover through federal grants.

Spared from the budget ax is a $9,000 portable band shell that was originally slated for the high school but now will be shared among all the buildings.
"I think it is money well spent," said Bodziak, pointing to the district's growing music program.

Board member James Whitcomb said he wants to make sure it's an item the district can afford.

"I'm all for enhancing the band experience, but I'm not sure we can afford it. We need to make sure we're spending our money wisely," he said.

A public hearing on the budget will be held May 3 before the May 16 school budget vote and board election for two board seats.

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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