Dunkirk school board approves admin raises

Approving contracts and reviewing the budget were on the agenda at the Dunkirk Board of Education meeting Thursday.

The board approved the extension of contracts for Superintendent Gary Cerne, Business Manager William Thiel and Buildings and Grounds Director Tim Abbey through January 2018. According to Cerne, all the administrators received a 2.25 percent raise, however exact salary information was not available.

Cerne said he has been with the district for six years and is looking forward to the future.

“I’ve been here six years now and I’ve loved every minute of it. I am thankful to the board of education for having the confidence in me to keep me around until 2018. It sounds like a long time away but time flies and I love working for this board of education, I love working for this community and I’m thankful I was given this opportunity,” he said.

The board also heard a presentation from Thiel on the budgets for athletics, transportation and buildings and grounds.

Thiel said the goal for these budget areas was to keep costs pretty much flat.

He explained there was a $6,000 decrease in the athletics budget because of previous overbudgeting for supervision. Modified sports were still included in the budget except for modified football because of conflicts with other football programs. The savings from this was used to offset the cost of a wrestling coach.

The buildings and grounds budget was also cut by $6,619. Thiel primarily focused on utilities, which he said are still at record low rates. He noted there are plans to upgrade the phone system at a cost of $15,000, which will be reimbursed to the district through E-Rate.

Thiel said there was an increase in the transportation budget but this is based on predictions of the Consumer Price Index increase of around 3.5 percent.

Thiel explained there are other portions of the budget with much higher increases than these three categories – specifically payroll and benefits. As stated at the last meeting, the district hopes the early retirement incentive will lower the increases which together are over a $2.2 million increase.

Thiel said he will report on the effect of the retirement incentive on that number at the next board meeting on Feb. 12.

In other business:

The board went in to executive session twice to discuss contractual and personnel matters.

Cerne reported going to the presentation by Rick Timbs on schools’ combined wealth ratio. He said a 1.0 ration is normal, and where Dunkirk’s ratio is .414, some schools in New York state have a ratio of 40.0.

He also said if the foundation aid formula was still the same, the district would have received $1.3 million more in aid this school year, explaining Timbs called for an overhaul of the aid formula.

Cerne also addressed school safety, saying the district had been enforcing safety measures before the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary and has recently conducted several safety drills as well as working closely with Dunkirk Police.

Assistant High School Principal Christopher Bulger resigned. Frank Jagoda was appointed as middle school intramural basketball coach for this year and Timothy Majka was appointed head football coach for the next school year.

A bid from Ahlstrom Schaeffer was accepted for a generator at the middle school.

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