While Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo boasted a 3.8 percent increase in school aid in his annual budget address Wednesday afternoon, Depew officials were crunching the numbers and realizing that the district’s share would be much lower.
Superintendent Jeffrey Rabey informed the Depew School Board on Tuesday night that the district’s increase in state aid would be 1.5 percent, not including building aid, for the 2014-15 academic year, according to the governor’s figures. A Buffalo News comparison of funding levels from 2013-14 that were adopted by the State Legislature compared to the governor’s proposal for 2014-15 found a -1.1 percent change.
One of the issues affecting state aid is Depew’s declining enrollment. Projections place the student population for 2014-15 at 1,814.
“That will be down from 1,850 students from this current year or a loss of 554 students over the last 10 years,” Rabey said. “As always, enrollment projections will play a key factor in designing our budget plan for next year.”
Also during the board meeting, Assistant Superintendent Susan Frey reported that the district has been awarded the New York State Education Department Strengthening Teachers and Leaders Effectiveness Grant.
The grant was awarded in the fall and offers the district $246,500 over two years to allow 13 teachers, the three building principals and Frey to complete a Career Ladder program.
Through the program, teachers and administrators will gain leadership skills while improving academic success for students. The grant will fund staff stipends, collaboration with coaches from Buffalo State College, tuition for advance studies for staff, conferences, training materials and iPads and keyboards for the 17 participants.
By the end of year two, the group hopes to accomplish several goals, including having 25 percent of district educators involved in one or more leadership activities, having 80 percent of educators actively participating in at least one team that analyzes student assessment data and improving the overall percentage of economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities who score proficient in English Language Arts and math by 10 percent.
The purpose of the grant is to support high-needs students across all grade levels while helping teachers and administrators develop strong leadership skills.
“This is really an opportunity for our staff to come together as adult learners,” Frey said.
The board’s next regular meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 25, in the cafeteria at Depew High School, 5201 Transit Road. A tentative budget work session is slated for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 4, at the same location.