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Board faces budget gap as it looks to 2012-13

Preliminary figures show a $645,000 gap between expected spending and revenue as preparations for a 2012-13 budget for the Depew School District get under way.

Superintendent Jeffrey Rabey updated the School Board on Tuesday after two meetings with his Budget Advisory Committee.

He noted that the state aid picture will become clearer with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's initial budget presentation, expected to take place in the middle of January, while Rabey remains hopeful that an increase of 4.1 percent or more is forthcoming.

Rabey also noted the district does not yet have service and cost changes for the BOCES program.

The board is expected to hold its first budget work session Feb. 7. Rabey said it will have to make a decision on the state's 2 percent tax levy cap by March 1, as the estimated $645,000 gap translates to a tax levy increase of 4.08 percent.

The biggest revenue losses include $729,000 in state building aid related to debt service reduction and $848,000 in the ending of federal stimulus money.

Rabey also reported the results of a community survey, which drew 203 respondents. Seventy-seven percent of the respondents approved of the academic programming but suggested including more career- and technology-related topics.

Other results led Rabey to suggest things for the district to consider implementing, such as: sports opportunities or activities for students who don't make the teams; increasing communications on board actions and administrative reports with the school community; and staff training in conflict resolution, active listening, problem-solving and parent-teacher communication.

Results will be available on the district's web site,

The board also authorized reimbursing Rabey $3,000 for a program in leadership and policy he took through Niagara University. The professional development expense reimbursement is part of his five-year contract with the district.

After having changed to one meeting a month this school year, the board often hears several presentations on school programs at its meetings.

Tuesday, the board heard updates on how new state mandates on math education from kindergarten through 12th grade are being implemented; reports of the numbers of students participating in various music programs; and the use of new technology devices in classrooms.

Information on these issues will also to be posted on the school's web site.

The board's next meeting is Jan. 17.