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Hamburg School budget to continue current programs

Hamburg Central School Board members next week will vote on a proposed budget that would continue current programming in academics, athletics and extracurricular activities for the 2013-14 school year.

The $60.25 million proposal would save nearly $200,000 by reducing the number of teachers because of decreases in student enrollment, Director of Administrative Services Barbara Sporyz said.

Further budget reductions are not possible without significant cutbacks on programs and services, she told board members Tuesday night.

“Restoration of any other programs that have, in the past, been reduced or eliminated, or any new programs, would be very difficult to achieve,” she said. The proposed budget would increase spending by $3.65 million or 6.45 percent. The tax levy would go up 5.4 percent to $33.51 million, which is the district’s allowable limit. That means the budget would need a simple majority of voters for approval in May.

Sporyz said an early estimation of tax rates indicates the rates could go up about 5 percent.

The budget would preserve “reasonable” class sizes, strong Advanced Placement courses and opportunities, course electives at the high school, strong music and art opportunities, and strong academic opportunities for special-needs students, she said.

“The offerings of academics, athletics and extracurricular activities programs are what makes Hamburg what we are and what we’ve been for a really long time, and it’s important to us to try to maintain those programs,” Sporyz said.

The district also plans to continue the Finance Academy and develop a Health Science Academy, continue the Global Leadership Program and continue development of Common Core curriculum and assessment alignment, she said.

When the district started its budget process, the budget gap between a “rollover” budget with current programs and staff was $4.9 million, she said. Savings are expected to come through retirements, a possible consolidation of teacher’s aide positions districtwide, reduced supplies, travel and conference requests, and continuing energy conservation programs, she said.

A troubling trend is the dwindling of fund balance and reserve funds, Sporyz said. She said it is difficult to generate fund balance in the current economic environment, which will limit the use of fund balance and reserves for future budgets.

Reserve funds could be used up by the 2014-15 budget year, she said.