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Budget process is nearly finalized by North Collins School Board

A third draft budget submitted by North Collins School Superintendent Benjamin Halsey on March 26 looks like it might be very close to the final product. Responding to School Board discussions on programing, the document adds more items than it subtracts and expected additional state aid could be used to lower the estimated tax levy increase from 3.2 to 3 or less percent.

The latest revision would see one .5 high school science teacher eliminated and Health instruction moved out of the Science department. Also a laborer position would be cut and replaced with a part time cleaner. That option was made easier as the Board accepted the resignation of one of its laborers that very evening. And finally, Soccer and Baseball at the JV level would be eliminated, not due to budgetary concerns, but from a combination of fewer students participating in the sports and the lack of JV programs in other schools in the district’s league.

Unlike the past several years, programming expansion also appears in the budget document. There would be a .4 Music instructor position established, a .3 increase in a Physical Education position bringing it to full time, a .3 increase in high school guidance and .1 increase in Tech which will allow an additional elective offered. Support would also be increased with contracts being signed with BOCES for 2 days of Curriculum Support and 1 Day of additional Tech Support.

Halsey also recommended an additional $52,555 be taken from the Debt Service Fund for a total drawdown of $717,000 for next year. The withdrawal would still leave a $935,000 balance in that account.

Addition of the BOCES Curriculum position should allow a more thorough review of programing in the district and help develop meaningful class structures. The BOCES Technology position would assist current staff in maintaining the various components that are being increasingly used in classroom instruction.

All the additions stem from concerns raised following a review of the past several years’ cuts and their impact of programs in the district by the school board.

Jr.-Sr. High School Principal Annie Metcalf said that the cut in the science staff would find each remaining teacher responsible for five and one half assignments for the year while the music increase will see an instructor specifically for grades K-1 and duties at the high school. That would free up the current two teachers to focus on band, chorus and individual lessons in both buildings as well as adding an elective at the high school.

The cut of the two JV sports program brought concern from Board Member Martin Niefergold who said, “Once they are gone it will be hard to bring them back.” Halsey and Metcalf both responded that the move came after discussions with the coaches who report that sign-ups for all levels would leave teams with thin rosters. Additionally, since most of the other schools in the league have disbanded JV programs, it would be more difficult to schedule games and would add considerable travel time if a schedule could be found.

Board Member Michael Stefan continued his focus on classes with small enrollments searching for “More bang for the buck.” Of specific interest to him was the television production course. Metcalf replied that the class has to be small because the room used is one of the smallest in the school. However, she said the program had a large impact on student life as it produces the morning news and announcements.

Metcalf introduced this year’s Valedictorian, Kyra Malinowski and Salutatorian, Jessica Smith. Malinowski is a National Honor Society member and has a 96.9 average. She has ben active in both Chorus and Band along with school musicals. In 2012 she received the Bausch and Lomb Science Award. She is planning to attend Medaille College in the fall studying Pre-Veterinary Medicine.

Smith is also an Honor Society member with an average of 96.5. A member of the Drama Club she has been in the cast of school musicals for the past 5 years and held the lead role in the just completed “Little Shop of Horrors.” A published author, artist and photographer she will attend SUNY Brockport in the fall pursuing a Fine Arts degree.

Metcalf also reported that as a part of the new evaluation regulations, teachers are not permitted to grade students tests that they have a stake in. Due to small faculty size at the school, she has been in contact with the principals at Gowanda and Eden to collaborate on equally sharing the responsibility among the three.

In other business the Board:

• Named Kathleen A. Mason as Permanent Chairman of the Annual Public Budge Hearing and Annual Meeting and Election Chairman on May 21. Halsey was named Clerk of the both annual meeting and the election.

• Approved issuance of a purchase order, subject ot voter approval, for the purchase of school buses or similar vehicles at a cost not to exceed $220,000.

• Approved the permanent appointments of Kimberly Volz as Bus Driver Priscilla R. Bunce as Bus Attendant, Barbara Senus as School Nurse and Christon A. Hoemer as Regular Part-Time Cleaner.

• Approved Mark Lawton as an unpaid assistant for the Girls’ Varsity Softball team. The next meeting will be Wednesday, April 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school.
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