By Jann Wiswall
Next Tuesday, May 21, Ellicottville Central School District voters will have the opportunity to vote on the 2013-14 school budget and elect three new members to the ECS Board of Education.
According to Board President Roger Spell, the “board has worked very hard” to find ways to meet state-mandated requirements to increase contributions to the employee retirement plan, and to purchase the tools and materials required to implement new testing, assessments and the Core Curriculum. The board made cuts and found ways to reduce expenses in order to keep the budget increase to a minimum, while ensuring that students receive the quality education they expect. And the board and district staff have made the effort to clearly explain to the public its process and rationale and final recommendation.
“We want people to know how much money we must spend to keep the school running,” Spell explained before a public hearing that was held Tuesday, May 14. “We hope voters will approve the work we’ve done.”
During the hearing, District Superintendent Mark Ward made a presentation outlining the highlights and challenges the board faced during the budget process. In addition, the four board candidates introduced themselves to the small audience.
Ward summarized the carefully constructed budget that includes a $144,000 investment in new computers that must be purchased to fulfill state requirements for testing and assessments, plus another $60,000 for the purchase of materials and training related to the implementation of the Core Curriculum. The budget also includes $210,000 in contributions to the employee retirement plan — a 37 percent increase over last year.
In order to fund these required expenses, Ward explained that the board looked for ways to reduce spending in other areas. Some of these reductions include elimination of one English teacher position (through a retirement), elimination of one maintenance and transportation staff position and cuts in administrative, equipment, supplies, athletics, insurance and other costs.
The total budget of $10,891,507 represents a 2.3 percent ($249,000) increase over last year, much of which can be attributed to the state’s mandated expenses. “We feel this is a reasonable budget,” Ward said following the public hearing. “Though we’ve cut back in some areas, we’ve been able to keep the quality of education high while meeting the State’s new requirements,” he added.
The budget vote will appear on ballots as “Basic Budget – Proposition #1.” Two other propositions will be on the ballot as well. “School Bus Lease – Proposition #2” would authorize the board to lease two new buses (66 passengers each) for each of the next five years. “Ellicottville Memorial Library – Proposition #3” would authorize the district to give $28,500 to the library as part of a long-standing state statute. The amount represents a $500 increase over last year’s contribution. If voters do not approve this measure, the library will still receive last year’s amount of $28,000.
The final item on the ballot is the “Board Member Election Voting.” Four candidates are running for three open positions. The candidates with the two highest vote counts will be named to two five-year terms beginning on July 1, 2013. The candidate with the third highest number of votes will complete the last four years of the term vacated by Aimee Kilby and e regular Board meeting to be held on the day of the election.
The election takes place Tuesday, May 21, from 1-8 p.m. in the Elementary School Foyer. A board of education meeting will be held the same evening at 7:30 p.m. in the High School Library.
NOTE: The May issue of the ECS School Newsletter includes a 12-page insert detailing the 2013-14 budget. The newsletter is posted on the school’s website under “Shortcuts” at www.ellicottvillecentral.com.