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Dundee sees $592K school budget gap

    DUNDEE—The Dundee Central School (DCS) district is expecting a 4.3 percent increase in the budget for the 2012-13 school year. During the school board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 9, Business Manager Melissa Lawson presented the current projections for next year’s budget.
    The budget for the current school year is $13,831,863. Lawson said during the presentation the 2012-13 budget is expected to reach $14,424,645. She explained the gap amount would be $592,782.
    According to Lawson, the projected figures include all costs such as expenditures, revenue from N.Y. State aid, and tax increases. However, those numbers are an estimate based on information the board has now. Lawson referred to current projections as a “broad-brush stroke in where we see the budget based on what we currently know.”
    In the presentation, Lawson explained in figuring out the budget, the question that needs to be addressed is “what must Dundee Central School have in place to increase student achievement and to ensure career and college readiness?” She added one thing the district has done is look at the categories towards which finances will go and figure out which ones are most important.
    Lawson discussed how appropriations are divided into four categories. They are mandated costs (school board, central administration, benefits and debt service); mandated core programs (academics and teaching staff); non-mandatory programs (extracurricular activities) and health, safety, and nutrition (maintenance, food, medicine and transportation). She said of those categories, health, safety and nutrition was seen as most important. Mandated costs were seen as the second-most important area, followed by mandated core programs then non-mandatory programs.
    When outlining how the projected budget would be divided, Lawson mentioned mandated costs were one area where the increase will be significant. For the current school year, the amount of money being allocated towards that area is $4,821,003. However, that cost is expected to be $5,434,790 (12.7 percent increase) for 2012-13. Lawson also gave detail on what exactly has led to that high increase. Lawson explained the main factor is that debt service is expected to rise by $527,097 (58 percent) for next year. She added a big reason for that rise is because debt needs to start being paid off for the district’s capital project.
    For the other categories, Lawson said mandated costs are expected to increase by $16,009 (.2 percent) and non-mandated program costs are projected to rise by $7,142 (2.9 percent). She did indicate a decrease of $44,156 (two percent) is expected for health, safety, and nutrition costs.
    With regards to revenue, Lawson stated the good news is more state aid is expected for the 2012-13 school year. The current projection is the amount of money from the state for next year will be $246,733 (three percent) more than this year. The district is also fortunate, according to Lawson, because they currently have money in the reserve fund that can go towards the budget.
    The new two percent tax cap waiver law which the state put into effect for this year was another matter Lawson touched on. She spoke about how it could complicate determining the final budget due to the eight step process required to come up with the district’s tax levy for next year. Lawson acknowledged the board will need to take time over the next few months to figure out how it will impact the final budget.
    Lawson noted that because current projections for next year’s budget are based on what is known thus far, those figures will probably change before the final budget for 2012-13 is approved. She also reiterated that there is still much work to be done before a completed budget is determined. Superintendent Kathy Ring added the school board still needs to figure out how they can save as much money as possible while catering to the needs of students in the district. “We have important questions to ask ourselves,” she said. “Do we want to eliminate opportunities for kids? Do we want to give them quality programs? We have tough decisions to make.”
    In other business:
    • The resignation of Joseph Capurso from the school board was approved. Capurso’s resignation will be effective Jun. 30.
    • School Board President James Koehler said that all petitions for the May 15 school board elections must be filed with the district clerk by April 16 at 7 p.m. Petitions require at least 25 signatures and are available at the district clerk’s office.
    • Elementary students were recognized for exemplary character traits in January. Those honored were John Shriver, Hunter Murphy, Cody Salamendra, Justin Wood, Gregory Moll, Faith Whetham, Rosanna Brewer, Zabreia Littell, Marcett Cleary, Calvin Baker and Logan Corey.
    • Ring announced that 55 percent of Dundee seniors have fulfilled their community service hours requirements for graduation. She added that many more seniors are also expected to achieve those requirements very shortly.
    The next school board meeting will be on Thursday, March 8 at 7 p.m. in the public meeting room.




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