Tonawanda News

The City

March 26, 2014

Tonawanda district looks to close budget gap

Tonawanda News — The Tonawanda City School Board considered reductions to fill the initial projected $821,508 budget gap at its work session Tuesday. 

Previous reductions at the board’s March 11 meeting included the use of money from the Highland school sale, savings on employee health insurance and the use of a grant for an instructional coach and six retirements, all totaling $340,000 in savings.

But even with those reductions the district would still have a gap assuming a 2 percent or a 3 percent levy increase to stay within the state tax cap.

Interim Financial Manager Richard Hitzges presented the board with a revised draft budget that included budget reduction recommendations from the board’s March 11 meeting.

“The reductions presented on March 11 have been incorporated into the March 25 working draft budget,” Hitzges said. “The revised total budget would be $30,592,892, representing a 2.46 percent increase over the current year budget.”

Additional reductions discussed Tuesday night included only replacing three-and-a-half of six positions vacated by retirements, saving $144,245. A $39,550 reduction in the facilities budget, a $10,000 reduction in electricity budget and a $1,575 reduction in BOCES services totaled $195,370.

A $50,000 transfer was also added to the general fund from the Highland School sale proceeds. 

The proposal would eliminate 1.5 special education positions and 1 elementary position. 

“All state mandates would still be followed,” Director Pupil Personnel Amy Edgerton said, regarding the student-to-staff ratio in the special education classroom. 

Fletcher Principal John McKenna requested that the board look into as many options as they could before considering cutting any special education positions. 

“I would love to keep all positions,” Superintendent James Newton said. “But we have a budget gap to close.”

Newton said the budget reductions include the possible hiring of a teacher assistant in the special education department. 

Hitzges said that the district shares services with many other districts as a cost saving measure.

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