Cassadaga Valley board discusses budget

SINCLAIRVILLE – The Cassadaga Valley School District is wondering when it will see money promised to it years ago.

Business Administrator Debra McAvoy began the school board’s budget meeting after the recent regular meeting of the school board.

McAvoy announced the tax levy in the tax cap is now at 1.46 percent, which amounts to $83,952.

“We can go with one out of two options,” she said. “We can propose to keep the budget below or at 1.46 percent, or we can override the tax cap.”

The board proposed to keep the tax cap at or below 1.46 percent.

Interim Superintendent Thomas Schmidt added this is not a spending issue, but is a revenue issue.

“They owe $4 million dollars to the district, but they hand us $200,000 like it is a gift,” he said. “It is not a gift of any kind; they give us $200,000 and sit on our money; they still have our $4 million.”

“We have to cut everywhere we can and take away programs we need,” he added.

“They want us to have full-time pre-k and not have kindergarten; with these cuts, schools will be forced to have full-time pre-k and no kindergarten; which means students take a year off and come back for first grade,” Schmidt said.

McAvoy pointed out the school is still functioning under the 2008-2009 budget, and school aid is being cut.

“The state fund has a $4 billion surplus, but can’t fund schools,” Schmidt said. “They give us less money to deal with.”

McAvoy added with all these cuts comes some harsh setbacks.

“The cut will bring an increase in class sizes, layoffs of faculty, closing buildings, reducing services, cutting summer school, foregoing repairs to school property, make kindergarten a half-day,” she said. “All kinds of things are falling apart here.”

There will also be cuts to BOCES programs. BOCES Occupation classes offered to students costs $8,060 per student; for the 2013-2014 year, there are 40 students participating.

Schmidt believes having distance learning classes will benefit the school.

“We have to match upgrading to offer/ bring in distance learning classes,” he said. “We get paid for out-of-school classes.”

The total school budget for 2013-14 is $1,854,881. The majority of costs were $789,690 for special education, $413,050 for technical services, and $183,978 for computer services.

Transportation Supervisor Bob Gilkinson pressed the idea of converting all the buses to be propane-powered.

“For a full school year, we would save $2,801 in fuel costs if we switch to propane,” he said. “It will cost $2,000 to upgrade the bus garage and $5,000 to install the upgraded fuel system.”

It would cost $5,411.74 to convert each bus to propane.

“The way the bus is designed, it would be very safe to switch to propane,” Gilkinson said. “The upgrade to the garage is just a precaution.”

Schmidt added by the time everything is factored in, the bus conversion would not cost anything.