School district estimates one million dollar deficit
“The past three budgets cycles have been extremely difficult in this district. We have made a lot of cuts, lost a lot of positions and programs; yet we’ve done our best to maintain costs and make it affordable for the members of this community,” said Ziolkowski. “This is going to be another challenging year as it has in the past.”
Ziolkowski went on to explain that NYS had financial difficulties before Hurricane Sandy and now that the storm has hit, the problems have only increased. She added that a 39 percent increase cost in retirement contributions, a natural increase in salaries, social security, and health benefits would cause a more than one million dollar deficit in budget funds.
“We are not anticipating any new state aid coming to us,” said Ziolkowski. “If anything we are anticipating a decrease in state aid, so that is a less amount of funds we have to work with.”
If the cost of health benefits only increases by five percent, the school board estimates that there will be a $1, 675, 469 cut in the budget. If costs increase by 10 percent, there may be a $1,675, 469 deficit but the numbers are not set in stone.
“We could see those numbers change, hopefully down but possibly up. We will just have to see,” said Assistant Superintendent Stephen Lunden.
The district is also losing income from Aspire once they officially purchase the North Hill building. From now until March, the school board will have a large amount of work on their hands determining where to make cuts; Ziolkowski stated that staff makes up of three quarters of the budget.
“Unfortunately it means a possible loss of personnel,” she said. “We definitely have a challenge ahead us and we will once again have to make difficult decisions on how we proceed in our district.”
The district also discussed plans for a major project regarding improved transportation for students to and from school. The school board has been meeting with specialists who will help pave the way for keeping buses and cars totally separate, diminishing traffic congestion.
Currently buses and parents who come to the school district are going to the front of the building to drop off students, which causes many issues. Next year the school will be adding an extension to the back area of the school so that bus traffic will be behind the buildings and parents will drop off students in front of the buildings.
“This is the plan that we believe will be most cost efficient for us and will also be the most safe as far as transporting our kids,” said Ziolkowski.
The next school board meeting will be held 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14.