The Batavia City School District is doing everything it can to hold down costs, but federal and state mandates make that more difficult every year, Superintendent Chris Dailey told members of the Batavia Kiwanis Club during their weekly lunch Thursday at Genesee ARC's Community Center.
Besides the long-standing mandates out of Albany, the new national education initiative called Common Core is adding new expenses for the district, Dailey said.
Even so, the district spends $18,207 per pupil annually compared to $20,410 per pupil on a statewide average.
"We're trying everything we can to keep it as lean as possible and keep it as far away from the students as possible," Dailey said.
Over the past three years, the district has cut 26 teacher positions, three administrative positions, three custodial positions and 10 clerical/teacher aide positions.
Voters in the district will be asked to approve a new budget May 21 that increases the district's share of the property tax levy by 2 percent.
Under terms of the state's property tax cap law, the district could have taken the levy up 5.5 percent.
The district is proposing $41,981,241 in spending, which is an increase over last year of 4.7 percent.
A homeowner with an $80,000 piece of property would be asked to pay $36.87 more in taxes annually under the proposed budget plan.
Non-mandated spending that is protected with the proposed budget is kindergarten (the state does not mandate kindergarten and in fact some school districts are eliminating the program), art classes, music in K-5, school plays, athletics, extracurricular clubs and advanced placement courses.
The district also does not see the need right now to increase class sizes.
Last year's school consolidation helped the district save money and keep the tax increase to a minimum, Dailey said.
There are school districts nearby that aren't faring as well, Daily said, and City Schools officials anticipate that in two or three years, some of those districts will become insolvent and the Batavia district will be asked to take on those students, which is part of the reason the district has maintained ownership of the Robert Morris property. The district may need the classroom space if required to absorb students from another district.
As part of the ballot later this month, the district is asking voters to approve a $3.8 million capital investment project that makes ADA-compliant upgrades to Van Detta Stadium and undertakes a number of maintenance and upgrade projects at the high school, Jackson School, John Kennedy School and Robert Morris.
There is also $1.5 million set aside for restoration work at the Richmond Memorial Library, including a new roof.
"We've done everything possible to try and save that roof," Dailey said "There's bubble gum up there holding it together if you really want look. We really need to replace that roof. The library is a gem for the community and it needs to be taken care of and it needs to be done the right way."
Last year, voters shot down a capital investment project that included upgrades to Van Detta that some found excessive.
This time around, the district is merely seeking to improve the handicapped accessibility of the stands and bathrooms.
The district is also looking to fund upgrades at the girls softball field, where conditions recently prompted a lawsuit by a pair of district parents.
Polls will be open May 21 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at John Kennedy School, 166 Vine St., Batavia, and Batavia High School, 260 State St., Batavia.
A public presentation on the budget will be made by Dailey at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, in the high school's library.