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The Orchard Park School District is feeling its budget pain early for 2014-15 as it rolled out proposed cuts Tuesday night, including slashing 16 full-time equivalent staff positions, as part of its plan to close a $2.2 million budget gap.

“This is very painful for all of us, to think of any reductions,” Superintendent Matthew P. McGarrity told the School Board.

“We continue to try to close that gap, and that follows years and years of reductions we’ve already had,” he said, noting that the latest projections are still a draft.

McGarrity went out of his way to say the district would try to make the bulk of its reductions in non-program areas before it touched program cuts.

District officials cautioned that they are still fine-tuning their budget numbers, but in their second budget draft they closed the projected gap of a little more than $2 million to get it down to $158,165.

More budget details will be released at the March 11 meeting.

The district is considering eliminating 14 full-time equivalent staff in instruction and programs, and two full-time equivalents in nonprogram reductions to shave a total $864,000 of the budget gap.

The administration also recommended further trimming $109,100 worth of extracurricular activities, as well as scrapping elementary late buses and its summer transition program.

The district also is calling to make some cuts in its summer reading program to save another $12,000.

Overall, program reductions total nearly $977,800, while nonprogram cuts tally $1.08 million.

Next year’s estimated budget is pegged at $90.02 million, reflecting a 4.63 percent spending increase.

The biggest hit impacting that increase is an additional $1.53 million in contractual salary increases. Health insurance costs account for a $889,376 increase, and increases in retirement system costs total $591,827.

The administration continued to stress the little amount of state aid increase it is projected to receive for the upcoming school year – amounting to an additional $20,352 or 0.1 percent – which represents a substantial drop-off in state aid over the last six years.

As a result, the district also plans to apply $550,000 of its reserve funds to help bridge the budget gap.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Jeffrey Petrus noted that helping to plug the big budget gap are 10 teacher retirements, which will save $375,867, and some school-related professionals expected to retire, to save another $60,000.

Petrus also said he was able to adjust the teacher retirement system rate to save $75,842 and to reduce the health insurance rate increase to 7 percent from 10 percent.

School leaders also are considering reducing the teacher substitute pay rate to $89 and also reduce the use of teacher substitutes tied to committee meetings. .

A proposed $20,000 reduction in athletics funding drew concern from board member Donna M. Omar.

“I was a little surprised to see athletics in here,” she said.

McGarrity said one area was not being singled out. “We’re looking at everything in all the different areas, instead of one specific area,” he said.

The district’s tax cap for next year’s budget is 3.27 percent, or $1.79 million.

email: krobinson@buffnews.com