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ECS 2013-14 Budget Highlights Include Investments in Technology & Curriculum

By Mark J. Ward, 

Superintendent of Schools

The following article is reprinted with permission from the May 2013 issue of the Ellicottville Central School newsletter. For additional information, including detailed, estimated revenues and expenses, see the full newsletter at www.ellicottvillecentral.com.

The board of education and administration have spent nearly four months developing a sound spending plan for district voters to consider. With the increasing costs associated with operating a school, we are constantly looking at ways to strike a balance between needs and affordability. We have worked very hard to maintain programs, provide opportunities and support the educational needs of our students.

The district has invested a great deal of “resources” in upgrades involving technology throughout the school building. We have replaced 15-year-old wiring and equipment throughout the building and have created a wireless learning environment for our students. Upwards of 150 new computers will be purchased that will meet the new standards required for testing in New York State. Additional funds are being used to buy textbooks, learning materials and curriculum work as we begin to fully implement new Core Curriculum.

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS:

The district will spend over $144,000 during the next five years to replace all student and library desktops with Dell Latitude 3330 notebooks (roughly 115 units). Since New York is involved with the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), the District is required to come up with a way to have multi-use computers for online assessments. Due to their size, the Dell Latitude notebooks, can be set up in the gymnasium, cafeteria or in large instruction areas for group testing that will be administered over the district’s wireless network.

Both high school computer labs will be replaced (one with regular Dell desktop and one with the new notebooks discussed earlier).

We are also updating staff computers, most of which have reached their end of life period (5 years or older).

A separate proposition (#2) will request the approval to lease two 66-passenger buses for a period of five years at a cost of $31,000 each year.

$60,000 will be budgeted to address the purchase of materials and training related to the implementation of the Core Curriculum.

Due to the assistance of E-rate funding (the first that ECS ever received!) the district has installed new routers, switches and wiring to upgrade our delivery of technology. This project also created a wireless network throughout the building. This $220,000 project will be paid for over the next five years with $140,000 covered by E-rate funds and BOCES aid.

Elimination of one 7-12 English position (based on a retirement).

Reconfiguration of the Maintenance and Transportation Departments resulting in the elimination of one position.

The district will maintain all extracurricular activities, academic competition and interscholastic sports.

We will continue to provide field trip offerings for our students.

We are currently working with JCC and Syracuse University in an effort to expand college-level courses for our students.

The budget before you represents a 2.3 percent increase in spending, while the tax levy will increase by roughly 3.9 percent. The spending plan is “under the cap” established by the state, and, therefore, will require a simple majority vote to approve. Of the $249,000 increase in spending, $210,000 is budgeted for mandated employee retirement costs. This alone amounts to 3.5 percent of the projected tax increase.

Over the past four years, we have worked tirelessly to maintain the quality education associated with the Ellicottville Central School. This has not been easy given the decrease in state aid that we have absorbed during this period of time. In fact, we actually received more state aid in 2005-2006 than we will in 2013-14! With the increases in wages, health insurance, retirement, energy and everything else, it is more and more difficult to maintain what we have.

We have continued to “right size” the operation and reduce costs wherever we can, blended with modest tax increases that averaged only 1.2 percent over the past four years. During this same period of time, we have used district reserves to reduce the impact on the taxpayers while maintaining the critical educational opportunities our students need to be career or college ready. The children only pass through our school one time and we believe that, as a community, it is our duty to provide our children with the skills, tools and opportunities they will need for a successful future.

We encourage you to review the budget, and, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Mr. Mark Ward, at (716) 699-2368 or email mward@eville.wnyric.org. A detailed public presentation of the budget will be held on Tuesday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m.

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