Ideas ranging from sharing a superintendent with other districts to limiting field trips came to the forefront Tuesday night during a discussion about the Springville-Griffith Institute Central School District’s budget.
Five groups of 10 to 15 residents, each led by a Board of Education member, shared suggestions for how to enhance revenues and trim expenses at the “budget preparation community conversation” in the middle school’s cafeteria.
District officials anticipate a $1.6 million shortfall in 2015-16 and a possible $3.4 million deficit the following year. Board President Allison K. Duwe emphasized that the district has lost $13 million in state aid since 2009 because of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA.
Each year since 2009-10, the state government has used the GEA to subtract an amount from each district’s state aid to cover its revenue deficit.
Chris Cerrone, a board member elected in May, warned the audience about what may lie ahead.
“We’re at a point where we’re facing devastating cuts,” he said.
Some asked whether the district should close Colden Elementary School because of its declining enrollment. Others inquired whether the district could share the superintendent and attorney with other districts.
Another suggestion involved letting the Board of Cooperative Educational Services handle the district’s accounting.
One resident wondered whether the district could let the Springville Center for the Arts direct musicals instead of paying teachers to oversee them.
Another resident, Ryan Holland of East Concord, asked about hiring a grant writer, as was done by the Yorkshire-Pioneer Central School District in Cattaraugus County.
Others inquired if the district could reduce field trips to once a year in each of the elementary school grades.
Some residents asked whether the district can improve the quality of food offered in the cafeterias.
Board member Kara M. Kane stressed that her group insisted on keeping the district’s bus drivers instead of contracting with a bus service.
“We want to maintain transportation in-house and maintain the quality of drivers,” she said.
Afterward, Superintendent Paul M. Connelly expressed his belief that the discussion allowed residents and board members to hear differing viewpoints.
“They realize other people don’t necessarily think the way they thought,” he said.
Officials will continue preliminary budget talks during board meetings in February. “We go through program by program,” Connelly said.
In light of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s withholding of state aid, Connelly expects to propose staffing reductions that can be reversed when the aid arrives.
He hopes to avoid proposing layoffs and fears that teachers may lose focus on their classes if they are worried that they could lose their jobs.
“I’m probably going to make personnel amendments that hopefully I’ll be able to undo,” Connelly said.
If Cuomo does not release the aid, the district faces large spending reductions. “I have a plan for that in cuts,” Connelly said.