As Williamsville school district officials begin to craft a spending plan for the 2013-14 school year, Superintendent Scott Martzloff on Tuesday night apprised the School Board that the district’s contribution to teacher and employee retirement have been among the biggest drivers of spending hikes.
The budget-to-budget increases have averaged a little over 2 percent during the past three years, but contributions to the teacher retirement system have increased almost 29 percent, Martzloff said. And contributions to the retirement of non-teaching staff have risen more than 45 percent over that same time period.
“So that’s really what is eating up the increases in our budget. We don’t really have any program. We’re not really growing in terms of what we’re doing for children,” he said after the Board’s budget work session.
In addition, Martzloff said, health insurance increases have gone up over $2.2 million during the past three years, even though district employees have taken on a larger share of the burden for paying for their own insurance.
Meanwhile, the superintendent projected nearly $6.3 million in spending increases and only $650,000 in additional revenues, which would make for $5.6 million budget gap. The superintendent also discussed the possibility of additional spending for improved security in school district buildings, including the introduction of an ID card system for all employees, as well as additional cameras.
“Other enhancements that we’re doing behind the scenes are to do everything we can to keep our children as safe as possible,” Martzloff said. “We also want to consider moving forward wellness enhancements. Certainly a big part of what came across in relation to the tragedy in Connecticut has to with mental health, the mental health of our children and mental health in our community,” he said, in reference to the Dec. 14 shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Also Tuesday, Board Vice President Ronald Shubert expressed a desire to restore full-time social workers to both Casey and Transit Road middle schools.
“Each one of our schools has a full-time social worker, except, I believe, those two schools,” Shubert said. “For the life of me, I don’t know how you can have a half of a social worker in a school. I suggest strongly that we restore that position.”
The district’s tax cap for the 2013-14 budget will be discussed at the Board’s next meeting on Feb. 12. Martzloff said he anticipates it will be slightly higher than the tax cap for this past year’s budget. A preliminary budget will be presented on March 5, with a final review scheduled for March 19. The board will adopt a budget on April 9 than hold a public hearing May 9. The annual district budget vote and school board election will be held May 21.