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Eden Board of Education decides to come together for future budget

EDEN — Attendees of the April 22 meeting of the Eden Central School District Board of Education were presented with a final budget presentation by School Director of Finance Thomas Murphy.

Murphy explained that the net difference between the restoration from the Gap Elimination Adjustment ($216,400) and the losses from New York state aid ($106,443), which equaled $109,960, was manageable for the district, due to anticipation of losses.

He said that, for items without conflicts of interest, legal fees were decreased, due to donated services from Board Member Colin Campbell. For the use of fund balance and reserves, he informed the public that Eden Central School District plans to use $1,041,120, “which is higher than last year. We’re still, in my opinion, in a very good spot,” he added.

The board looked at the changes in student programming from year to year, and projected academic program budget-neutral additions and reductions. The increase or decrease for these programs does not directly involve the budget process. This is, as Murphy put it, a “redistribution of the pie,” without the inclusion of the budget.

For the 2014 – 2015 year, the following academic programs will see increases: technology (.34 percent); library services (.47 percent); special education (.90 percent); music (.17 percent) and physical education (.34 percent).

A .40 percent reduction will affect personnel for the reach/gifted and talented program and a .51 reduction for the family and consumer science program. No layoffs will take place for the latter, due to a retirement.

For budgeting reasons, the only reduction due to academic programming will be a teacher assistant for the suspension room.

One academic program that will be maintained is German (.17 percent), due to a reported high amount of student interest. That language will be offered, next year.

Murphy told The Sun, “With the budget ... I have really seen it play one of two ways. When you’re dealing with diminishing resources, there’s one of two things the district can do. They could fight amongst themselves and say, ‘I’m fighting for my dollar and someone else is going to have to do without.’ Or they could come together and say, ‘How are we going to make it through until the state gets its act together?’”

The Eden Central School District came together to adjust the budget with days of furlough pay for the administrators, superintendent, director of finance and the supervisors. School Superintendent Sandra Anzalone will take a pay freeze and the Eden Teachers Association will take a reduction in health benefits.

In the area of extracurricular reductions, there will be a $16,000 reduction for athletics; a total $8,436 reduction for musicals ($5,800 at the junior-senior high school and $2,636 for elementary) and $16,100 for extracurricular clubs and activities.

“Basically, what that means is, there will be some clubs that are not funded,’ Anzalone said. “They can run, but they would have to fund it themselves. Some groups do this already, with boosters and fundraising.”

Other non-academic program reductions include: one bowling coach (although the team will remain intact); three teacher aides (one has already resigned, so there will be only two reductions); the resigned head bus mechanic position will not be refilled; one bus attendant position will not be refilled; a supervisor for buildings and grounds retired, so that position will not be refilled; two bus attendants will have their hours reduced and five bus drivers will see their hours either reduced or eliminated.

In to transportation, group pickups for streets on the east side of Main Street (between Church Street and Schoolview Road) will mirror the pickups for streets on the west side of Main.

Additionally, students from the Weller subdivision on the footpath between Merrill Place and Schoolview Road will now be walking.

“Those two things alone were significant in saving for the district,” Murphy said.

Furthermore, each building reduced its supplies by 10 percent. Field trips at the junior-senior high school will have alternate funding. Teacher conferences will be held solely through Boards of Cooperative Educational Services. Equipment expenditures will be reduced next year by $20,000; the $100,000 technology increase to replace the equipment will be put on hold. Murphy said that a security camera increase should be put into a capital campaign.

The 2014 – 2015 budget amount was proposed at $26,396,480, with a $676,054 spending increase (2.62 percent) from the current year. The tax levy increase is at 1.78 percent, with a tax cap equal to that amount. Change in the consumer price index is 1.46 percent.

With the establishment of a budget advisory team this year, the public was given a chance to routinely be informed about what goes into the budget.

Anzalone and Murphy noted that the district is willing to do a budget outreach. Those interested were directed to call the district at 992-3629.

In anther matter, five candidates were named to be elected for three spots on the board: Gary Sam, Michael Breeden, Michael Byrnes, Steven Cerne and Colin Campbell.

The budget vote will take place from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. in front of the auditorium at the Eden Junior-Senior High School.
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