Facing a midyear shortfall of more than $400,000, East Aurora school officials have managed to fill the budgetary hole without making cuts to staff or programs.
School Board President Daniel Brunson said Wednesday, “We dodged a bullet.”
The district needed savings to cover an estimated shortfall of $360,000 discovered earlier this year as a result of an influx of students needing special-education services outside the district and nearly $50,000 in excess fuel heating costs.
At a special board meeting to discuss the matter, School Business Manager Paul Blowers presented three scenarios to board members.
Option one would have reduced technology service requests by $30,000 from the Board of Cooperative Education Services. The second option added $225,000 in savings by deferring the July health insurance premium, which is typically paid in June, an odd accounting procedure that Blowers said he didn’t agree with but had kept because of protocol initiated prior to his arrival in the district.
The third option combined both previous options, plus an additional $60,000 of supply expenses deferred from June to July.
The latter measure drew the greatest response. Board member Jessica Armbrust called it “kicking the can down the road.”
Stephen Zagrobelny said that unless the district actually planned to cut back on purchasing supplies – of which Blowers said there was no intention – the tactic was “playing a budgeting shell game.”
Blowers admitted the choices were difficult.
“This is new in East Aurora,” he said. “It’s the first time since I’ve been here that the district has had to deal with something like this.”
Superintendent Brian Russ said he favored the third option because it gave the district the most cushion.
Ultimately, the board approved the second option.
In a separate matter, the board approved a resolution that condemns linking student testing and teacher evaluations.
Board Vice President MaryBeth Covert said, “Unfortunately, we can’t change the law, but we can send a message.” Armbrust called the resolution “groundbreaking,” while other board members hailed it as unique because it wasn’t diluted by Common Core concerns.
However, the board said it planned to develop a resolution concerning the Common Core shortly.