Frontier school officials aren’t wasting any time getting a jump on anticipated budget problems for the 2013-14 school year.
“The harsh reality is we are going to have to look at every program that we offer,” Superintendent James C. Bodziak told the School Board this week. “If we have a program servicing a handful of students, we may need to [consider] being more cost effective.”
Bodziak did not mince words, since the district has dipped deep into its reserves in recent years to buck tough budget cycles and just six months ago had to make painful staff cuts – some of which ended up being restored this fall.
“Knowing that the reserves are dwindling in this district, I think everything has to be on the table,” Bodziak said.
On the revenue side, Bodziak noted that the district has no additional reserves to appropriate. An overview he gave the board pointed out that the 2012-13 budget appropriated $1.56 million, which is “not available for 2013-14.”
State aid is expected to increase about 2.4 percent, or approximately $654,826, because of the impact of the property tax levy cap.
Property taxes are pegged for about a 2.6 percent increase under the present legislation, while sales tax revenues are expected to go up by 2.7 percent with continued economic stability.
However, the district knows some expenses will be higher. Employee benefits will increase about 5.6 percent, or $959,065. District staffing is expected to remain the same as during the current school year, but a payroll increase is projected at 3.1 percent.
Meanwhile, BOCES services would likely remain the same, although their costs will increase about 3.5 percent, or $212,364.
Debt service, however, is expected to decline slightly, by approximately $115,833.
School Board members bandied about a variety of informal ideas that should be looked at as possible ways to cut spending for the new budget year.
Even though the district cautioned that it is not proposing it, officials said the community education and summer school could be on the table for discussion.
Board member Nancy Wood didn’t like the possibility of cutting summer school.
“I think the summer school program really helps the kids. That would be sad,” she said.
Board President Janet MacGregor Plarr wondered if the district could realize new rent revenue if cell towers or windmills were located on the district’s vacant land.
The board is expected to adopt a budget proposal March 26 or April 9, with the public vote set May 21.