WESTFIELD - The magic number the Westfield Academy and Central School District has to cut to balance its budget is $362,000.
During a presentation to the Board of Education on Monday, Feb. 25, Superintendent David Davison stated the projected budget gap for the 2013-14 school year is $767,000. However, the board's finance committee has recommended an appropriation of $305,000 from the reserve fund and Davison predicted an estimated additional $100,000 in increased state aid.
These numbers were discussed before the Federal Government's sequester cuts became a reality.
Photo by Jenna Loughlin
Westfield Academy and Central School Superintendent David Davison, left, spoke on Monday, Feb. 25 to the Board of Education about the district’s projected budget gap and his goal to involve the community in conversations about the budget and the budgeting process.
Davison began his presentation by reviewing the five-year plan developed by the Ad Hoc Strategic Planning Committee last spring. He noted the many suggestions WACS has put into place over the last year, such as moving forward with merger plans, sharing a number of sports with other districts and advocating for a regional high school bill, school mandate relief and funding equity for rural schools.
However, many of the challenges remain the same as in recent years. Declining enrollment, reduced state aid, the spending of the fund balance and reserves, the threat of educational and financial insolvency, the 2 percent tax levy limit and escalating costs exceeding that 2 percent were the ones Davison noted.
While going through the budget process, the Davison said the underlying philosophy he would like to see includes evaluating all programs and operations for effectiveness and efficiency, appropriating resources according to student needs, enrollments and participation, meeting the Common Core Learning Standards and following a balanced approach to reductions across all areas. This means that to close the $362,000 gap, the board and district will look at enrollment, class size, staffing, efficiencies, shared services and non-mandated programs.
Davison listed possible cuts at the elementary, middle and high school levels as well as district-wide cuts and cuts to BOCES services, though he noted the district receives aid on 70 percent of its BOCES costs.
At the board's next meeting Monday, March 11, Davison will be making his recommendations on how to close the projected budget gap. Business Manager and District Clerk Al Holbrook said a budget for the 2013-14 school year would be adopted by the board at the Monday, March 25 meeting. Both meetings are open to the public and will take place in the Large Group Instruction Room starting at 7 p.m.
Holbrook went over the general support portion of the budget with the board. He said the district will be proposing the purchase of a new 60-seat bus because WACS will receive 90 percent aid on the purchase, and, with the district's bus rotation plan, it breaks even or makes money by selling the buses once they become five or six years old.
Holbrook reminded the board it cannot transfer funds into or out of any 5500 accounts by law.
Also during the meeting, Davison asked the board for feedback about his idea to pass out a flyer titled "At the Core." He sees the flyer as a way to fulfill the strategic plan's goal of educating the to the public about where the school stands.
The flyer is Davison's way of taking his "show on the road," bringing information about the budget and the process to people in order to start discussions and conversations.
"If the people aren't going to come to me, I'm going to go to the people," Davison said.
Board members Marie Edwards and Francine Brown and president Jeffrey Greabell all said they liked the idea. Greabell offered to help Davison with his effort.
There was no public comment or old business.
During board commentary, member Brenda Backus brought up the strategic plan's goal of bringing back booster clubs by noting the Friends of Education were going to discuss the clubs at its meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 27.
In new business:
the eighth grade ELA class was approved to sell salsa from Tuesday, Feb. 26 through Wednesday, March 6;
Gabrielle Zarpentine was approved as an uncertified substitute teacher and substitute teacher's aide for the remainder of the 2012-13 school year, effective Tuesday, Feb. 26;
Monika Voltmann was approved as a volunteer track coach for the 2012-13 school year.