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Budget draft has $5.8 million in employee benefits

Employee benefits make up a significant percentage of the Fredonia Central School District's budget, according to a report at Tuesday night's Board of Education meeting.

An overview of the second draft of the 2011-12 budget, presented by Business Administrator John Forbes, showed benefits total $5.8 million, up $362,800 from this year.

Superintendent Paul DiFonzo said that each year the district battles group health insurance rates, over which it has little control. "Health insurance costs just keep going through the roof," he said.

Group health insurance alone is projected to cost the district $2.7 million, a 6.2 percent increase. The figure is more than twice the $1.3 million the district will pay into the New York State Teachers Retirement System in 2011-12.

The administration has been working with the Board of Education on lowering budget line items as much as possible without damaging the district's educational system.

DiFonzo said areas such as Advanced Placement classes and perhaps foreign language may see some reductions.

Among revenue cuts the district expects next year are reductions of $94,020 in local and federal funds and $791,840 in state aid. The district also expects a $1.3 million increase in the tax levy. It will not see any state deficit reduction funding in the coming year.

The second budget draft shows an overall budget of $27.8 million for 2011-2012, down from the first draft's total of $28.4 million. Further drafts are expected.

"We still have work to do," DiFonzo said.

The annual budget hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. May 10 in Room 636 of the high school, immediately followed by the regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting.

In other business, petitions nominating candidates for the School Board are now available in the district office. They must be filed in the district office by April 18. One five-year term of office is up for election, the seat now held by Rosemary Joy.

The annual budget vote and School Board election will be held from 2 to 9 p.m. May 17 in the high school cafeteria.

Also at the meeting, it was announced that the school musical, "Godspell," will be staged April 1 and 2 and April 8 and 9.

DiFonzo said the district is accepting the names of tuition students for 2011-12, but he cannot be sure any slots will be available.

Spring break will be April 18 to 22.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 12 in Room 636 of the high school.