City schools' budget 'flat,' cuts proposed for teachers, coaches and aides
The Batavia School Board met in the John Kennedy Elementary School cafeteria last night. Left to right: school board members Gary Stich and Gail Stevens, and BHS senior Sahil Jain, student ex-officio.
The superintendent of the Batavia City School District says a key goal of the proposed budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year is to make cuts as need be "without hurting any student programs."
Yet it calls for fewer coaches and their support staff, and cutting teaching positions in each core subject as well as three aides. Decreased enrollment in secondary schools is partly to blame, according to Superintendent Margaret Puzio. There will be no transportation provided for summer school either.
The good news is that BOCES will be getting a 15-percent increase in funding.
Overall, Puzio said the school district projects a "flat budget" for the upcoming fiscal year, meaning minimal or no increase. Certain cuts to be made in order to make room for investments in other areas, according to the trustees.
District Business Manager Scott Rozanski attributes the stable budget to conservative financial practices in recent years, the availability of budget surpluses and the district's decision to pay for some expenses -- for example, construction work on the Administration Building's roof -- with reserves. These factors balance out with a slight decrease in state aid to keep the overall budget where it is now.
Here are some highlights of the budget meeting:
- Almost all extracurricular and athletic activities that are now available will also be available next year. However, there may be fewer assistant coaches and support staff.
- Some changes are going to be made in the elementary summer school programs. Transportation will not be provided for kids attending summer school; they will need to either walk or be driven by their parents. This year, summer school will focus exclusively on improving the reading skills of at-risk students and will consist of small classes. There will be six teachers in each school -- Jackson, John Kennedy and Robert Morris -- and a lot of small-group interaction.
- Because of a significant decrease in enrollment projected at the secondary level, there will be staff cuts in each core subject. Puzio said that there are only about 160 students in the upcoming sixth grade class. The cuts will only effect teachers with the lowest seniority, and they will not lose their jobs if there are retiring teachers in their subject areas.
- Three teacher aide positions will be cut, one from each elementary school.
- There will be a 15-percent increase in the funding of BOCES services, including special, alternative and occupational education, and technology. Rozanski said that the district cut some technology expenses last year; this year, it will be able to "put new purchases back in and move forward with the wireless trend."
The budget's tax-rate information depends on factors that remain to be seen, and will therefore not be available until the fall.
The board unanimously approved the 2010-2011 budget, as well the election of BOCES Board Members. It also approved keeping the student ex-officio stipend so that the board will always have someone to keep them informed on what goes on in the schools.
The public can vote on the school board's budget from noon until 9 p.m. May 18 at one of three locations:
- Jackson Elementary School, 411 South Jackson St.
- Robert Morris Elementary School, 80 Union St.
- Batavia Middle School, 96 Ross St.
Voters must live in the Batavia City School District and be registered to vote.
For more information, please contact the board office at 343-2480.
As the meeting came to a conclusion, Puzio distributed a letter from Genesee Valley BOCES Superintendent Michael Glover regarding Governor Patterson's school-aid cuts. According to Glover, these cuts affect less wealthy Upstate districts significantly while unfairly privileging wealthier Downstate districts (he cited Nassau County, Long Island, as an example). For more information on this, contact Rick Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium, at 315-749-3637, or e-mail <[email protected]>.
From left, board members Steven Hyde and Pat Burk, and Bobbi Norton, assistant to the superintendent.