The cold reality of this winter and what it has meant to school districts, both educationally and financially, occupied the East Aurora School Board Wednesday.
With just two snow days left on the books, Superintendent Brian Russ said that, as a precaution, he is canceling the scheduled superintendent’s day on March 14 and making it an instruction day for students.
If the district uses more than the two snow days remaining, he said, it will have to begin canceling vacation days during the April break in the following order: April 14, 15, 16 and 17.
The weather also has had an adverse effect on the schools’ heating bill. To date the district is carrying a $45,000 shortfall in the utilities budget, Business Administrator Paul Blowers told the board – a number that is likely to grow.
And in addition to the cold weather costs, the board learned that the district already has exceeded its budget for Board of Cooperative Educational Services by $360,000. The figure seemed to stun board members, who wanted to know how it happened and why they didn’t know sooner.
Blowers said the spike in BOCES-related expenses came when 10 special-needs students, who require out-of-district services, came to the district after the budget was set for this year.
He told board members he received word only this past month of the exact costs, though four of the students were classified in June and the other six moved into the district in August.
Among the solutions he offered to close the gap was accruing some June expenses into the next fiscal year, using the fund balance to cover the overage, or cutting costs now.
Board President Daniel Brunson said that, to be most effective, any midyear reductions should be done as soon as possible.
The board decided to call a special meeting for 7 p.m. Feb. 26 to discuss the strains on this year’s budget and decide on a means to mitigate the unexpected costs confronting the district.