The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

January 16, 2013

Smith outlines plan to fill LCSD budget gap

By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — LYNDONVILLE — School administrators in Lyndonville told their board of education last month that LCSD faced an estimated budget gap of $350,000. Monday, they explained how the district could fill that gap with making only minor spending, staffing and organizational changes. 

Superintendent Jason Smith outlined a plan Monday that would reduced $205,000 in expenses and recommended the board cover the remaining gap through an allocation of reserve funds and a two percent increase in the school’s tax levy.

Smith said the district expects to save $50,000 due to a decreasing population of Lyndonville students in occupational education classes at O/N BOCES. Another $50,000 could come from a single staff reduction, with $40,000 in savings from replacing a retiring teacher with a less expensive new hire. Smith said who would be laid off has not been determined.

”It will be based on enrollment and need (for the class),” Smith said.

Another $45,000 would be saved by rerouting existing bus routes in a way that would reduce the number of routes by one, a move Smith said is possible to do without greatly increasing the amount of time students spend en route to school.

The rest of the cuts could come from slowing new equipment purchases, grant writing reimbursements and reduced conference expenses.

”We’re wringing out all of our costs that don’t effect education,” Board President Edward Urbanik said.

School Business Administrator John Wolski also issued his recommendations for use of reserve funds in the coming budget Monday. Lyndonville used three reserved funds last year to provide $230,000 towards the budget for 2013-13.

Wolski said the district has about $3.6 million in available balances, which would last for 15 years if they are expended at this year’s levels.

”We’re in fairly good shape, but using reserves as revenues without (refilling them) is not a suitable long-term plan,” Wolski explained.

He recommended having voters approve the creation and funding of a new capital reserve fund for transportation this year. The district’s oldest bus is more than 20 years old and a handful of vehicles have covered more than 150,000 miles.

The consensus among school board members Monday was that the tax levy increase should not exceed two percent. Lyndonville’s tax cap limit is likely to be at least two percentage points higher, which means only a majority vote would be needed to approve the budget.

Smith said that the estimated $13 million budget presented Monday is a “best case” scenario that could be significantly altered next week, when the state’s education funding levels are announced; or in March, when a potential sequestration of federal funding could reduce grant levels for special education.

• Administrators were impressed by the response of students, staff and parents to a lockdown drill undertaken at the school last week. The drill, done in cooperation with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, assessed the school’s reaction to a scenario where students safety is at risk.

High School Principal Aaron Slack, echoing comments made by Smith, CSE/CPSE Chairperson Anne Marie Holland and Elementary School Principal Patrick Whipple, said the half-hour drill was successful to the attitudes of students.

“There was no anxiety or hostility from the students,” Slack said. “In the wake of (the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting), the kids are very reflective. They know this may save lives ... we can’t prepare for every scenario, but we use common sense.”

Smith said the district has made several changes aimed at increasing student safety in response to last month’s mass shooting. Among the improvements are having only  one entrance to the school open during school hours and reinforcing the screening procedures for visitors.

• The board welcomed back former board member Jim Moody, who was appointed to fill the seat vacated by William Jurinich. Moody, the Director of Independent Living of Genesee Region, previously served on the school board from 2009 to 2012.

• LCSD recognized a $18,000 contribution from the Lyndonville Area Foundation for the Stroyan Auditorium. The board also accepted a $2,500 award from M&T Bank that will purchase athletic shoes for students in need of the footwear.