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Current and future budget challenges discussed at West Valley Central School

WEST VALLEY — West Valley Central School Business Official Ann O’Brien kicked off the May 13 board of education meeting with an introductory budget presentation.

O’Brien said that current and future challenges may be found, within the budget, which was approved on April 23. She added that these difficulties include “increases in New York state employee and teacher retirement costs; health insurance premium increases; uncertainty that surrounds further state aid cuts and lack of state aid increases; property tax cap and the stagnant growth in tax base, as well as unfunded state mandates and enrollment.”

In addition, several program changes will take effect, during the 2013-14 school year. “There will be a reduction of the .5 [full-time equivalent] high school math, due to enrollment, and one FTE art retirement, to be replaced,” O’Brien said.

“The budget increase for 2013-14 still remains at 2.09 percent [or $8,609,698],” according to the business official. “The percentages for uses of education funding are 18 percent capital, 12 percent administrative and 70 percent for instruction, with their respective dollar amounts of roughly $1,560; $1,020 and $6,200.”

The state’s school tax relief program includes two components: A $30,000 savings, for a basic exemption and a $63,300 savings, for an enhanced exemption. “A primary resident will be eligible for basic exemption, if the combined income of the owner is $500,000 or less,” O’Brien said.

The business official encouraged local homeowners to “anticipate instructions that shall be sent by the NYS tax department, including information on when and how to register.”

In other matters:

– Principal Dan Amodeo announced a summer school enrichment program, which will target 12 students. This program will be offered to kindergarten – third grade students. “We are looking for this program to target some of our students, who are struggling readers,” Amodeo said.

The summer school course lasts for approximately four weeks, during July and August. “They will work, one-on-one, with the teachers, for approximately two times, per week, for 2 hours, in a small group setting,” Amodeo said. “This shall put those students in a better position, come next year, as they will be more closely matched with their peers.”

– A school bus proposition will include the purchase of one 28-passanger bus, with a cost not to exceed $40,000. Bus 85, with approximate 100,000 miles, will be traded, for a $7,000 credit.

– Two school board seats are up for election, this year, to fill the expiring terms of Teaseleman Jackson-McCarty, who is running unopposed, and Board President Stephen Kowalski, who is running against Brad Frank.

– The motion granting tenure for Meghan George-Baker in the area of science, effective March 12, was tabled for further discussion, at the next meeting.

– A donation of $100 to Parents as Reading Partners will be used, during the West Valley Parent Teacher Organization’s kickoff week.

– The use of the entire school and its grounds, except the graduation ceremony location, was made available to Stephen Howe, for a 48-hour film festival.

– The school “drive your tractor to school day” will be held on May 31. The rain date is June 3.

– The annual budget vote and school board election will take place on Tuesday, May 21, in the school’s main foyer, from noon – 9 p.m.

The next regular board meeting will be held on May 21.

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