The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

March 21, 2013

Preliminary budget shows little growth

By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — MEDINA — The Medina Central School District will present voters with a budget that raises spending by less than a percentage point this May.

The district’s $33.7 million preliminary 2013-14 budget includes no increase in the property tax levy, although the board of education may add to the levy to reduce the planned expenditure of $1.4 million in reserve funds.

School Business Administrator Sharon Zacher said the budget is largely inline with last year despite a projected 10 percent increase in costs related to employee benefits due to initial savings from transportation and facility reductions.

“We’ve brought down expenses,” said Zacher, who believes that the transportation savings will grow in future years. “It will take a few years to show the savings from the single bus run, but our fuel costs were down.”

The budget projection includes a maintaining of student programming, the school’s student resource officer, and technology upg

Zacher presented the initial plan and a run-down of four propositions Tuesday. Medina will ask voters to weigh in on the budget, a school bus purchase, the creation of a new capital reserve fund and four spots on the school board.

The creation of a $2.5 million capital reserve fund is designed to replace the district’s existing $1.5 million fund. Zacher explained that the current fund incorrectly referenced the state law for municipalities and not schools when it was created in 1998. While that has not prevented the use of the fund, recreating the reserve fund was recommended by the school’s attorneys.

It would be funded in part by $800,000 left in the existing reserve, which also includes $500,000 earmarked for Vets Park and $200,000 designated for the proposed purchase of one 66-passenger and two 30-passenger buses.

Asking voters to approve a separate new capital reserve fund for transportation expenses was discussed Tuesday, but held back to unclog the May 21 ballot. Zacher said it’s possible that a public-petitioned proposal to reduce the size of the school board from nine members to seven may be added.

Boardmember Rosalind Lind supports the reduction, saying it would not weaken the board’s power to improve the district.

“I feel that the board would function just as effectively ... and be in keeping with the huge reduction in student population,” Lind said. The school’s population on Tuesday was 1,720, up from the 1,689 in a October census. Zacher said she’s budgeting for about 1,700 students in 2013-14.

The proposal was tabled after boardmember Virginia Nicholson and others voiced opposition to the proposal, which was voted down by voters two years ago.

“(If the board remained at nine members) there’s less possibility of control issues — with seven you’d only need four votes to control the district,” Nicholson said. “More representation means there’s more advocates for our children.”

Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.