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S-GI board hears second part of budget presentation

SPRINGVILLE — The Springville-Griffith Institute Board of Education heard the second of a three-part budget discussion presentation at its meeting on March 11. This portion covered the recent retirement incentive, employee benefits and debt service.

In all, nine certificated teachers, three bus drivers, two teacher assitants, one payroll clerk, one computer technician, one nurse and one head custodian took advantage of the offered retirement incentive. The total cost of this action, for year one, is $679,502. The savings, for that same year, is $553,845; $572,496 for the second year and $599,045 for the third year. That will result in $1,725,386 in savings, over the next three years.

While Business Administrator Ted Welch has acknowledged that the retirement incentive has been “a difficult choice” for the district, the savings it reflects will be significant, over time.

Employee benefits include the employee retirement system, teachers’ retirement system, Social Security, worker’s compensation, life insurance, unemployment insurance and health insurance. All of these programs include funding the district is required to pay by state and federal programs. Many of them, such as the teachers’ retirement program, has increased in cost every year since 1998-99.

In 2005-6, the district paid $2.37 million in health insurance for employees, or 9.28 percent of the total general fund budget. In 2014-15, the district will pay $4.38 million, or 12.25 percent. Annual increases since 2005-6 have average 6.45 percent.

In total, a Step 1 teacher costs the district $69,032, including salary, FICA/Medicare, TRS, unemployment, worker’s compensation and health insurance. A Top Step teacher costs $126,473. In total, benefits will increase from $8,193,112 to $8,549,794 in 2014-15.

In addition, debt service, which stands at $504,797 in total for this budget year, will increase to $607,405 next year. If left as-is, the debt service will go down to $183,845 in the 2017-18 budget year Welch compared this segment to the mortgage on a house, and said that in that year, several debts will be paid off. He recommended starting a capital project in that year, to prevent dramatic dips and spikes in the debt service amount.

“That’s the perfect time to implement a capital project,” Welch explained. “It’s just like a mortgage on your house. You’ve got to maintain the house.”

He said that, although that is a longer-range time frame, he wants to plan ahead, for a possible fall vote.

Welch also projected the budget and revenues for the next three budget years, assuming static state aid, sales tax and a 3 percent property tax levy. Assuming those numbers remain approximately the same, S-GI will see a revenue gap of $116,404 for 2014-15. In 2015-16, that gap will increase to $783,330.

“I try to keep a running tally on budget impacts,” he said. “And update the board as best I can, as these numbers come in.

“At best, things like state aid, property tax and things like that will remain flat. There’s no reason to expect those to change,” he explained, in reference to how he calculates the budget projections, for further down the line.

In other board matters:

– The board approved the nominations of Richard Vogan and Thomas DeJoe as board members on the Erie 2 Board of Cooperative Education Services Board.

– The placement of students as recommended by the committees on preschool special education and special education was approved.

– Fundraising requests for spirit day, the sale of Make a Wish Stars at the middle school, a coin drive to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Western New York, a middle school pajama day for the Miracle League and a eat at Kiril’s restaurant night were all approved.

The next meeting will take place on March 25 at 7 p.m. in the S-GI High School library and media center. At that meeting, Welch will present the instructional program, special education and budget summary.

“The reason I saved the education portion for last is that it’s the most important part of the budget,” Welch said. “After that, things will start to come together and we can start talking about what we want to do [about next year’s budget].”

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