WESTFIELD - The Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education held budget study session no. 2 at its meeting on Monday, March 11 where board members heard recommendations to close the budget gap.
"In putting this together, our goal was the work within the parameters and come up with $362,000 in cost savings and provide as many programs and maintain as many programs as possible to our kids for next year," Superintendent David Davison said.
Davison gave the recommendations of the administrative team as to how to close the $362,000 budget gap in the 2013-14 school year budget. They were: one full-time teaching position in the elementary school; replacing an open middle and high school teaching position due to retirement with a 0.33 full time equivalent position; eliminating 0.33 FTE foreign language teacher; cuts to the athletic budget; eliminating a building maintenance mechanic position; and bringing back several special needs children to WACS.
Photo by Jenna Loughlin
Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Board of Cooperative Educational Services, or BOCES, District Superintendent Dr. David O’Rourke, right, spoke to the Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education on Monday, March 11 about what services the board and the district are looking for from BOCES. Joining him were BOCES Assistant Superintendent for Management Services John O’Connor, left, and BOCES Board of Education President Ronald Catalano, center, whose home district is Westfield.
"In total, these are the major savings and reductions that I am recommending that will ... close the $362,000 budget gap," Davison said.
The cut to foreign language is a continuation of the transition from two foreign languages - French and Spanish - to just Spanish, which began with last year's budget cuts. Which elementary teaching position would be eliminated has not been decided as it could be at a few grade levels. Also, Davison said the maintenance person who would be eliminated would be offered an available cleaning position in the district.
Athletic Director Jake Hitchcock told the board the big changes for sports at WACS is that girls' volleyball will move to Brocton Central School while Brocton's track and field team will come to WACS. He also pointed out the equipment fund has been reduced by $3,000. It was also mentioned at the meeting that the NorthLake Family Recreation Center has offered to reduce the fees it charges the district by 10 percent.
At this point, all interscholastic sports have been merged with the exception of basketball, baseball and softball. Hitchcock also pointed out that while his budget has been reduced by almost 50 percent, WACS has only lost five sports in the last five years. A person who did not give their named asked during public comment if these five sports could return if Westfield and Brocton merge, and Board President Jeffrey Greabell said there is always that possibility.
Business Manager and District Clerk Al Holbrook reported to the board the district lost $21,000 due to the Federal government's sequestration cuts. After going through the budget worksheet with the board, Holbrook said he feels good about this budget - his 29th - in his gut, but the state could still come out with changes to the Common Core and Annual Professional Performance Review. He noted if this did occur, it would blow up the budgets of all schools, not just Westfield.
Some of the highlights Holbrook made in regards to the 2013-14 budget were teacher retirement costs increasing 29 percent from the previous school year, $8,000 in revenue from the sale of a bus which would complete the district's cycle that makes purchasing a new bus cost neutral, a possible new high tax aid which would replace the now non-existent railroad aid and the district is not appropriating any fund balance this year on the recommendation of the finance committee.
During a discussion item regarding budget talks, Davison reported to the board about his efforts to go out into the community and talk with people about the budget. He said he had met with five groups so far with three more to go and each discussion had taken a different path. He appreciated that the conversations were very frank and candid and noted most of them led into discussions about consolidation. Greabell said he thinks what the superintendent is doing will prove to be positive.
The budget is scheduled to be voted on at the Monday, March 25 meeting, which is open to the public and will take place in the Large Group Instruction Room starting at 7 p.m.
Also at the meeting, the 2013-14 calendar was discussed. Davison said he got together with Brocton Superintendent John Hertlein and Chautauqua Lake Superintendent Ben Spitzer, and as a group they tried to design a calendar that would allow the districts to work staff development together while minimizing the amount of time Board of Cooperative Educational Services, or BOCES, students would miss class. It would also allow WACS to work on the Common Core and other necessary elements of APPR. The calendar is scheduled to be voted on at the March 25 meeting.
During board member commentary, Brenda Backus reported the Friends of Education Fund, with help from the Parent Connection Fund, awarded five mini-grants totaling around $1,000 this year, filling all the requests made.
At the beginning of the meeting, BOCES Superintendent Dr. David O'Rourke gave a presentation to the board regarding BOCES services. O'Rourke is reaching out to all the 27 districts and boards BOCES serves in order to see what those districts would like to see from BOCES. He gave the board a survey in the hopes that it will be a conversation starter.
"I am proud of what we do. I'm also very intent on improving what we do, and I know our staff are very intend on that too," O'Rourke said. "So we need your feedback to make those improvements."
The annual BOCES meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 9 starting at 7:30 p.m. and the LoGuidice Educational Center, 9520 Fredonia-Stockton Rd., Fredonia and will be preceded by a reception starting at 6:30 p.m.
In other business, the board:
decided to continue holding the senior citizens breakfast;
nominated Jerome Brown, Ronald Catalano, Linda Hoffman, Joanne Martin and Anita Ray to the BOCES Board of Education;
approved the probationary appointment of Jennifer Leone as a cleaner effective Monday, March 11 at the appropriate rate in effect in the Instructional Support Staff Unit agreement;
accepted, with regret and gratitude, the resignation of Deborah A. Maines, family and consumer science teacher, for the purpose of retirement effective Sunday, June 30.