The Lake Shore Central Board of Education held a public hearing for the district’s 2013-14 fiscal year budget that brought out zero members of the voting public.
The 11 members of the school board were the sole audience for the budget hearing presentation, held in the spacious Lake Shore Senior High School auditorium. Assistant Superintendent of Business Daniel Pacos led the presentation, which detailed how the district would budget the $53.3 million it’s requesting in its upcoming budget.
The proposed budget represents a 1.02 percent increase over the previous year’s budget of $52.7 million. Large increases were seen in the legal and personnel department, which would rise almost $45,000 due mainly to a new human resources clerical position within the district; and the special schools budget, which would increase by more than $240,000, due mainly to increased technology costs through BOCES.
Significant reductions were made in the transportation budget and school counseling budget, the latter of which was made possible by the removal of one middle school-level counseling position through attrition following retirement. The teaching budget was reduced by almost $20,000, although that required the reduction of 4 FTE credits worth of teaching positions. The staff development budget was also about $3,000 less than last year’s appropriations, a cost savings realized through reductions in BOCES services.
Passing the budget would require voters to approve a 2.34 percent increase in the school district’s tax levy. As he has noted in previous budget discussions during board meetings, Pacos was critical of the $3.6 million of public aid withheld from the district by the state because of the gap elimination formula, a New York State measure intended to help the state balance its budget following the recent economic recession. The district had originally thought that it would be losing $4.7 million in state aid, but amendments to the state’s upcoming budget provided more educational aid for public schools for the next fiscal year. “How horrible is it that you’re happy to only lose $3.6 million instead of $4.7 million,” Pacos said.
Only two months ago, the Lake Shore Central Board of Education was wondering whether it would be forced to seek a more than 9 percent increase in the tax levy just to maintain their level of educational services. The budget that voters will be deciding on provides a satisfactory level of services, according to board members, but the public that this budget affects has been largely silent during the entire process.
The budget vote will take place on Tuesday, May 21 in the Lake Shore Senior High School lobby, from 9 AM to 9 PM. Voters will also have the chance to decide on a proposition for the purchase of three 71-passenger school buses at a cost of about $340,640. The school board seats for Dennis Feldmann, Cindy Latimore and Dyan Scritchfield will also be up for election.