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West Valley Central School board talks budget, assessment, sports

WEST VALLEY — The West Valley Board of Education held its regularly scheduled meeting on April 7, in which an update on consolidated sports teams, students’ refusal to take the New York State Assessment and the budget were discussed.

Superintendent Eric Lawton reported that 42 students refused to take the New York State Assessment, which could lead to problems with meeting the requirement. The school has also been asked to draw up a plan to decrease that number, in the future.

Principal Dan Amodeo said his biggest frustration is that, when some students don’t take the assessment, it causes a bandwagon effect and an increased number of refusals. Amodeo also said that, in the coming weeks, he will be contacting parents of students who refused to take the assessment and ask why they allowed their children to do so.

The consolidation of sports teams was also brought to the board. Lawton said he talked to other schools since the last meeting and found out that a merger with Pioneer football and wrestling would not work because it would bump them up to a higher level, where they would not be competitive. But discussions will still be open, in case the numbers change.

In addition, an agreement has been reached to combine football with both Ellicottville and Franklinville. There are also talks of sharing facilities between West Valley and surrounding schools. Lawton said that it would be easier to do with Ellicottville and Franklinville because they are smaller districts. West Valley officials are also in discussions with Pioneer and Springville, but that merger would be harder, because those are larger districts.

Lawton next brought up the capital improvements project and how beneficial it would be to pass it at the budget vote, later in the year. Because of the high state aid ratio the school receives, WVCS is able to take the $400,000 it will cost to fix the roof and fund a project of about $1.8 million, with no additional cost to the taxpayers.

“If it doesn’t pass, we would be spending that same amount of money to get the roof fixed, but not get any aid out of it,” said Lawton. “We have chunks out of our sidewalk, tripping hazards in the hallways and, because of the roof, we have classrooms we cannot use right now. It’s just needed repairs that will do wonders and not a lot of fluff.”

Moving the graduation ceremony to the auditorium instead of the gym was also suggested to the board. After discussion about both the capacity and the temperature of the auditorium, no one had any complaints about the proposal and said would take it more into consideration, in the coming weeks.

District Business Official Ann O’Brien started off talking about where she feels the school will be at the end of the year. She predicts the school will have about $195,000 in revenue, after this year. Even with the school experiencing higher electric costs, she expects to come out ahead. But if unexpected costs come up, everything can change in a heartbeat, she explained.

“You really cannot predict everything that will happen between now and then,” said O’Brien. “I try and be conservative and I hope, in the end, it’s better than what I said, but you never know.”

O’Brien went on to talk about the upcoming budget for the 2014-15 school year. Going into 2014-15, the budget will be down $69,958.94 from the previous year. But because of the revenue that was brought in this year, O’Brien decided to reduce the budget by about $86,000, which keeps the tax levy level.

O’Brien said that it could make things more difficult, down the road, if something were to come up, but it was the right thing to do for the community, at this time.

“It squeezes our budget tighter and it gives us less breathing room, if we were to have unanticipated expenses,” said O’Brien. “But we felt that, in the current environment, that it would be better to hold the tax levy the same.”

The West Valley School Board will hold its next meeting April 22, at 7 p.m., in the school library.


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