The Buffalo Board of Education is expected to approve a $794 million general fund budget tonight as part of a spending plan that totals $908 million when all the grants the district receives are included.
The budget proposal is available for viewing by visiting the district’s website, www.buffaloschools.org, visiting the Finance Department web page, then clicking on the “2013-14 Proposed Budget” link.
The 84-page budget document outlines $14 million in increased spending, largely due to rising employee benefit costs, despite the net reduction of employees by 30 and budget savings due to the closure of a number of school buildings.
It also shows cuts to the number of teachers in curriculum areas such as science, instrumental music and foreign language, as well as increases in core teaching areas such as reading, math and elementary education.
The district will spend $31 million in reserves as part of its deficit-reduction plan. The budget narrative does not specifically address the impact the budget changes will have on class size. The district has adopted the first phase of a “school-based budgeting” system that gives principals and their leadership teams more autonomy to determine their own staffing needs.
Those school-by-school budget breakdowns are not included in the budget the board is expected to approve. The board also does not approve the $114 million grants budget.
Chief Financial Officer Barbara J. Smith previously stated the budget also will cut costs by consolidating or eliminating many classes with enrollments of fewer than 15 students, restructuring elementary in-school suspension programs, and cutting 50 school bus aides through attrition.
A few district programs also will be enhanced. Those include the creation of STAR Academy, a new program aimed at serving overage and undercredited students; the expansion of extended-day programs and related costs at low-performing schools; and the purchase of more core-subject textbooks so high school students will no longer have to share them.