SRO contract and tax refund approved by Dunkirk School Board

A school resource officer agreement extension and a reimbursement of tax funds were part of the agenda for the Dunkirk Board of Education during its meeting on Thursday.

The now-approved SRO agreement with the Dunkirk Police Department will continue to provide a police officer for the high school. The contract lasts from Jan. 1 through June 30 and will cost $10,410.77 per month.

Superintendent Gary Cerne addressed concerns that the price tag was too steep for the school district and said the amount covers not only the officer’s salary, but benefits, as well.

“That includes their health insurance, their retirement benefits and things like that,” he explained. “I think a lot of people assumed that was the monthly salary. It’s not; it’s the entire package. That person works for us full-time, so it’s not fair for the city to be paying the retirement and the health insurance, so we’re trying to be fair to the city and pay that.”

As of Jan. 6, Officer Shane Carlson has taken over as SRO in the place of Officer Denise Zentz. Cerne said he believes Zentz is going back on the road for patrols.

The board also granted a reimbursement of $19,738.63 to Buffalo Anderson Associates LLP for its school taxes this year. The business had challenged its $1,650,000 assessment for property located in the town of Dunkirk. A settlement of $882,000 was reached in the case and was based on the establishment of market value through a completed sale transaction, according to the resolution.

Cerne said the nearly $20,000 loss hurts the school, but the reserve funds cover situations like this.

“It’s always disappointing when we get into these types of situations, but … Benderson Development Company (the parent company of Buffalo Anderson Associates) is challenging almost all their assessments in Western New York, from what I understand,” he said. “Our attorneys say this is the way to settle it. The assessed price will be closer to what the purchase price was of the property. We hate to have to dig into our reserves to pay that back, but if it went to the full court case, we’re not sure how we would do.”

“It’s kind of the nature of the way things are nowadays; a lot of people are challenging their assessments,” Cerne added.

Buffalo Anderson Associates initially sought a reduction in its assessment to $705,000.

Also during the meeting, a transportation contract extension with First Student Inc. for a Baker Victory/Summit Center route was approved. The contract will cost $29,336 for the current school year, which is an increase of 1.33 percent.

Cerne announced the district was denied its full-day pre-kindergarten grant it had applied for recently.

“It appears it went to the larger cities like Rochester, Buffalo and New York City. So, we were denied our grant,” he said.

Several change orders for Phase III of the EXCEL Capital Project were approved. The change orders are for Ahlstrom Schaeffer Electric Corp. and Scobell Company Inc.

The board entered into executive session to discuss two personnel matters.

Board Vice President David Damico presided over the meeting in the absence of Board President Kenneth Kozlowski.

The board recognized several students of the month, including Arianna Irizarry of School 3, Emma VanValkenburg of School 4, Victor Sanchez of School 5, Ashley Gotowka of School 7, Samantha Moser of the middle school and Adrian Vega of the high school.

The next meeting is Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the large group instruction room of the administrative building.

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