Sixteen people – three-quarters of them school district officials – showed up Tuesday night for Depew’s annual budget hearing with one week before the vote.
Superintendent Jeffrey Rabey presented the Board of Education’s proposed $40.8 million spending plan, which includes a 1 percent tax levy increase, meeting the district’s cap. The spending plan represents a 5.94 percent increase over this year’s budget.
Rabey explained that about $4.7 million in budget reductions have been made since 2010, but class sizes haven’t increased and programs have been retained. District enrollment has steadily declined from 2,367 students in 2003 to 1,813 this year.
He added that the budget was balanced using several methods, including an early-retirement incentive for six Depew Transportation Employees Association and Civil Service Employees Association workers and the elimination of 8.4 full-time positions.
Should residents vote down the budget, the School Board could adopt a revised budget to put up for a second vote. If that also were to fail, the district would have to adopt a contingency budget that includes no tax levy increase.
“We would have to reduce the budget by $165,858,” Rabey said.
He added that non-union salary increases and equipment expenditures would have to be eliminated first, and then one additional staffer and field trips would be cut.
“Under a contingency budget, there would be no community use of our facilities without full reimbursement of expenses,” Rabey said.
District residents also will be voting for two School Board members. Two candidates filed petitions to run for the three-year terms. Barbara Staebell, senior staff assistant at the University at Buffalo, has been on the board for 13 years and has two adult children. Newcomer Donna Kapinos is a stay-at-home mother with two children in the district.
Voters also will consider two other propositions, including whether to allow the district to purchase new buses using a reserve fund and to sell the Terrace Education Center. Officials stressed that the bus purchases would have no effect on the tax levy.
The annual School Board election and budget vote will take place from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday in the library at Cayuga Heights Elementary School, 1780 Como Park Blvd. A brief meeting will follow to verify results.
The next regular board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. May 27 in the cafeteria at the high school, 5201 Transit Road.