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Eden school budget discussion will continue

EDEN — While members of the Eden Central School District Board of Education presented details about this year’s budget, during their March 19 meeting, no decision was formally made about that item.

The Budget Advisory Team, which began meeting last November, holds its events prior to the monthly board meetings.

Director of Finance Thomas Murphy discussed the installation of the budget advisory team, which occurred last September. He said that the group would give “the community a chance to find out about the budget.”

That team is made up of members of the board, community residents and parents, who discuss the budget and allow information about the school’s finances to be disseminated to the community.

“We are hoping that all of the BAT members will return next year,” Superintendent Sandra Anzalone said.

Prior to this month’s board meeting, Director of Athletics Marisa Fallacaro and Director of Transportation Rose Heckathorn met with the BAT, to discuss reduction options for both of their departments.

The board said that four options are being considered, for athletics: leaving the program as-is; eliminating junior varsity sports for some teams, placing seventh – ninth graders in modified, with the remaining students on varsity teams; eliminating junior varsity for nine teams, putting seventh – eighth grade students on modified, with freshman – seniors on varsity and dropping modified for nine teams, with the addition of intramural teams, due to New York state regulations.

The state currently requires schools to offer either intramural or modified teams, according to the superintendent, who clarified that intramural does not include competitions.

“The Eden Central School District believes that the inclusion of modified teams helps our students grow in character, skill and strength – a strong reason why we have such a high participation and such strong junior varsity and varsity teams, for many sports,” Anzalone said. “Eden is fortunate to have an All-Sports Booster Club, which fundraises on behalf of our teams. We have been able to maintain our program for many years, due to the generosity of our community and the efforts of the booster club.”

During the March 19 meeting, Fallacaro presented the total cost of each team and number of athletes. There are now approximately 400 individual Eden athletes; 53 percent of Eden’s students participate in one or more teams, according to Fallacaro.

Heckathorn proposed route reductions, along with group bus stops and walker scenarios, for transportation. Most students are now picked up at their individual homes. A group bus stop is an idea that was proposed to be more cost effective for the school.

The board clarified that the Eden Central School District is currently trying to close a $2.1 million budget gap.

“These are difficult topics and ones that the board does not take lightly,” Anzalone said. “The Gap Elimination Adjustment, tax cap levy limit and reduction in foundation aid have tied our hands. Since the inception of the GEA, Eden’s losses total over $7.7 million, in aid. This year alone the total is just under $1.2 million. Our allowable tax cap levy limit is 1.78 percent.”

A special board meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 8 to further discuss the aforementioned topics. The board will also hear from NYS about additional aid that will be factored in.

The budget adoption date will be either April 15 or 22.

In other board matters:
– Three teachers were nominated for the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services Board: Richard Vogan, Thomas DeJoe and David Lowery.

– The part-time teacher early retirement incentive was approved.

– The board also approved the record retention schedule. Finance Director Thomas Murphy explained that this schedule dictates how long the school will “keep certain types of records.”

– Overnight trips for two separate extracurricular groups were approved. The Eden concert band will visit New York City from March 28 – 31 and the Eden baseball team will visit Myrtle Beach, S.C., April 14 – 18, for the Mingo Bay Baseball Classic Tournament.

– The board accepted a donation of canvas boards, valued at $1,379, to the art department.

– Parent-teacher association President and third grade teacher Tiffany Kwas presented Eden Elementary School’s application for the National School of Excellence; Eden is one of five Western New York elementary schools that qualified.

A tentative board meeting is scheduled for April 15 at the Eden Junior–Senior High School.

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