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Springville-Griffith Institute Board discusses its annual budget

SPRINGVILLE — Springville-Griffith Institute School Business Administrator Ted Welch presented the ever-changing budget for 2013-14, when the school board met, on Feb. 12.

The board looked into ways to cut costs, in order to provide the services necessary to the community. “The numbers will change,” Welch said. “What you see today will more than likely change, tomorrow.”

Welch stressed the importance of community conversation input,” while still attempting to “sustain the current status of the district.”

The numbers from 2012-13 were, in Welch’s estimation, “status quo;” the goal for the following year is to maintain or improve the reserve funds, while exploring “district-wide reorganization.”

After each point in the budget presentation, a list of community conversation comments collected from an event held Jan. 8 at the middle school was presented.

While Welch went over the salaries and costs for the school board, such suggestions as “providing incentives for people to become a school board member” and “board members should talk with other board members from other school districts” were listed, for those in attendance to consider.

One suggestion was made by Stephen Schunk, a member of the board. “It makes sense to be committed to, whenever possible, making available to the public the information that is available to us, which has not traditionally happened,” he said.

“It’s always available,” Jon Einarsson, another board member, clarified. “We’re not hiding anything.”

Welch explained, “It’s up to the board what you disseminate and how.” The board members agreed that the information would be helpful, in determining trends over periods of time.

While the proposed budget provides savings in many areas, Welch said that the most significant increases are due to the district’s use of the BOCES program. The budget for public information is scheduled to increase to $55,742, from last year’s total of $18,500.

BOCES District Superintendent David O’Rourke was present at the meeting to introduce himself and gather feedback from the board and district. “We’re there to serve your students,” he said. “Your students are our students. We have 43,000 students in our 27 component districts.”

O’Rourke provided the board with a survey, including the following questions: “What would you say our BOCES program is? What are you most proud of? What are things we need to work with? What could we provide that we don’t presently provide?”

Regarding the increase in the budget, due to the BOCES program, O’Rourke said, “We did tighten our belt in a lot of areas. We will continue to do so.” Board President Mel Williams said, “The board and the taxpayers appreciate that.”

As a result, one department that will likely see cuts is interscholastic athletics, according to Welch. That program received $504,055 in last year’s budget, but can expect approximately $459,571, for this coming year. While Welch said that athletics is often the recipient of budget cuts, a board member pointed out that sports “keeps kids in school.”

In other board matters:
– Students from Springville Elementary School were present, at the meeting, to demonstrate an exercise called “math sprints.” Students were given 1 minute to answer as many multiplications questions out of 44 that they could and then try to break their previous records. The teachers said that the stress is not necessarily on how many questions are completed, but on how much the students improve.

“It’s great to see the ways our boards are interacting with our community,” said O’Rourke, after the exercise. “That’s a wonderful example. I applaud you for bringing the children in, tonight.”

– After carrying all other consensus items, the board reviewed the proposed lifeguard position at the school, as well as the transportations committee’s appeals process. Regarding the lifeguard position, Athletic Director Joseph DeMartino said, “The [physical education] teachers are certified [lifeguards], but they have recently liked to have a lifeguard on board for $10 an hour. We have had this position filled, to supplement our swim program.”

The position is for the daytime and serves as a “second set of eyes.” “The teachers are teaching,” DeMartino said, suggesting that it would be beneficial to have another staff member who could focus on safety. That motion was carried.

– The transportation committee’s appeals process was tabled and referred back to the policy board. “I don’t want to seem like this is a reactionary move,” Einarsson said. “I’m not so sure that just having a written opinion or synopsis from the parties is adequate. I’d just like it to be examined.”

– The following fundraising activity requests were approved: middle school Kids Can Make a Difference-sponsored bracelet sale (proceeds will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society); middle school KCMD-sponsored photo contest (proceeds will benefit the Ten Lives Club); Middle School parent-teacher organization-sponsored candy bar sale and Pizza Hut® fundraiser night (proceeds will help cover the costs of the eighth-grade Washington, D.C. trip) and Colden Elementary School parent-teacher association-sponsored theme basket raffle and silent auction (proceeds will benefit the CES PTA and its activities).

– The board accepted a donation of $2,000 from the Buffalo Bills Youth Foundation and Buffalo Bills Inc., as a result of varsity football Coach John Sopko’s designation as coach of the week. The monies will benefit the S-GI football program.

– According to Williams, the board is “taking a hard look at the organization of all [its] buildings; all [its] campuses.” When the board debated about when to begin this process, whether before or after tax season,

Williams suggested that information be gathered, after the budget is completed. Board Vice President Delia Bonenberger said that she agreed the budget needed to be in focus, at this point in time.

“Some information might be helpful in budget discussion,” said Board Member Joan Kelly. “If there’s information, why are we asking for it? We should have it. I’m in favor of us putting together a task force or some sort of committee.”

“I do think this type of project could easily get into such incredible minutia and go on endlessly and get input from many people repetitively,” Schunk offered. “I tend to think more along the lines of streamlining this and incorporating it into the budget process. We get into the middle of it and say, ‘Well, if we made this change, we could save X number of dollars and do it more efficiently.’ Why would we want to put it off for another year?”

The board will reconvene on Tuesday, Feb. 26. The meeting will be held at the high school’s library media center, located at 290 North Buffalo St. in Springville, at 7 p.m.
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