East Aurora school officials have pared the district’s 2013-14 projected budget gap to $150,000, and some are hoping that means staff and program cuts of any significance will be avoided.
But it’s not a guarantee.
“It’s encouraging how the budget deficit has come down,” School Board President Daniel Brunson said last week, noting the budget gap was as high as $900,000 several months ago.
Estimated revenues for the next school year total $29.5 million. Preliminary budget figures call for a 2 percent increase in the tax levy, with sales tax revenues expected to increase by $111,710.
Also playing into the equation is full-day kindergarten conversion aid totaling $119,160, deferred to 2013-14.
Proposed budget figures released last week show the district is looking to raise $17.75 million in taxes through the levy and anticipates $825,000 in appropriated reserves and $1.1 million in appropriated fund balance or savings.
District spending is up 2.72 percent, or $791,438, in the budget draft, with appropriations totaling $29.9 million.
Key items included in the preliminary 2013-14 budget call for maintaining staffing at 2012-13 levels and keeping athletic programs and clubs at the current year’s levels. Advanced Placement courses, music, art and electives also would stay intact, and the budget calls for equipment for technology, instruction, buildings and grounds, and new textbook purchases.
Board member Stephen Zagrobelny wants to know how the district will balance its budget. “I’m surprised there are no possible program cuts on the table. We don’t have many [budget] meetings left,” he said. “We either have to raise more in taxes or cut programs.”
Superintendent Brian Russ, who will present an updated budget draft at the board’s next meeting Wednesday, said the district is in a better position than it had been but is still feeling the “pinch from Albany.”
“We decided to not do any program cuts or other areas. But now we’re at a point of a $150,000 [gap] and have to go back and look at programs,” Russ said.
Russ noted that contingencies are built into the budget, but he asked the board where it wants the administration to trim $150,000.
“We may have to address the tax rate or program cuts to find $150,000, but hopefully not,” Brunson said.
Russ is expected to provide several options next week on how to reach a balanced budget, highlighting the tax impact and whether more savings can be achieved.
“We created a budget that did not cut programs or increase class sizes,” Brunson said. “We want to provide a year of stabilization for our school district and not have the uproars we had in recent years.”