Public decision

It’s set to go to the voters.

The Dunkirk City School District Board of Education approved sending a proposed 2013-2014 budget of $40,923,396 for a yes or no from voters on May 21 during its meeting Tuesday.

Superintendent Gary Cerne said the district will have a flat tax rate for the sixth straight year as the $9.6 million levy on school tax payers remains the same. The budget will increase 1.79 percent over last year however, as the 2012-2013 budget totaled $40,204,152. That figure was up $2.1 million from the prior year. The final bill for taxpayers is reduced as the state covers the district’s debt service.

“Again, it’s another challenging budget season but I’m really thrilled the way this turned out. Thanks to a lot of retirements throughout the district we will not have to lay anyone off this year,” Cerne continued. “I’m pretty certain that we’re the only district around that will have no tax increase and certainly not have to lay anybody off. Of course, I always have to mention when I say no tax increase, the levy will be the same. If the assessed valuation in the city changes, or in the towns, or if equalization rates change, those are all things out of our control that the Office of Real Property Services controls. As far as we know we’re going to ask for the same amount to be collected.”

The district will receive more aid but Cerne said the amount was not significant.

“We thought when the legislature met we would do better but we didn’t. The increase was negligible and it was kind of disappointing for us,” he added. “I know some of our neighboring districts did much better when the legislature finally approved things, but it was a routine effort putting this budget together.

“I think the retirement incentive we put forward early on in the year really helped us get through and make ends meet this year. Actually, thanks to a grant we’re receiving we’re probably going to net out adding some positions. We’re probably, again, one of the few districts around that will be hiring.”

A resolution on the agenda created four positions in the Middle School, all funded by the $400,000 annual grant.

“It was supposed to come this year, it was late so we spent a lot of it on technology this year. For the next year we’ll be looking to add personnel,” Cerne explained. “They will be considered temporary positions for two more years. They’ll be geared around (Academic Intervention Services), one for each grade level, then a teacher on special assignment to do data work.

“We’ll run some ads this weekend and like to get a jump on things and get people hired as quick as we can.”

Cerne was asked what the major challenges were in putting the budget proposal together. He cited payments for the employee and teacher retirement systems.

“The thing that was very difficult is ERS and TRS rates are increasing and they’re huge numbers. The TRS is tied to the stock market on a 5-year average,” he explained. “It’s starting to rebound a little bit but we’re still paying for all those years when there was a down market, and those were tremendous numbers to overcome and there’s no way around them. Almost 80 percent of our budget is in personnel and benefits so it’s a tough thing.”

The budget presentation will be given at the board’s May 9 meeting with the budget vote set for May 21. Three board seats, two for three-year terms and one for a one-year term, will also be up for a vote. The deadline for school board candidates to file nominating petitions is April 30.

Cerne said the vote will be canvassed May 21 after the election. The board set July 3 as the date for its reorganizational meeting.

The proposed budget will be available online at by following the departments tab to the business office page where these and other documents can be found.

The board also appointed Kayla Barberich, Jeremiah Dloniak, Alexander Knapp, Jeannette Montalvo, Richard Pickens, Zachary Torain, Vincent Barreto, Andrew Douglas, Bryan McCoy, Rico Nelson, Edgar Sanchez and Edward Torres Jr. as temporary summer custodial workers. Alternates were listed as their names were pulled by board members.

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