Fredonia budgets $300K increase from pre-k loss

The Fredonia Central School District is budgeting a $300,000 increase for the 2014-2015 school year resulting from the loss of the combined universal pre-kindergarten program with Dunkirk.

Business Administrator John Forbes made the announcement while presenting the second draft of next year’s budget during Tuesday’s board of education meeting.

“Salary and benefits are showing an increase of $1.3 million, or 6.97 percent, making the total $20,248,701,” he said. “That, of course, is impacted by the loss of the universal pre-k program with Dunkirk to the tune of about $300,000 in salaries that had to be put back in.”

Earlier this month, Super-intendent Paul DiFonzo announced the UPK partnership between the two school districts would come to an end after one year. Dunkirk Superintendent Gary Cerne cited keeping city students local as the main reason, as well as obtaining state grant money to help fund Dunkirk’s program.

“Part of that agreement was that Dunkirk was letting us use the grant money to fund the program, and their grant money was paying approximately $300,000 worth of salaries for our UPK teachers and staff,” DiFonzo said. “So, with the loss of that partnership, now we’re left to try and make up that difference.”

DiFonzo estimated that money supports about four or five positions.

As part of Forbes’ budget update, the second draft has resulted in a cut of about $35,000 from the first draft, bringing the overall number to $30,518,503, or a 6.13 percent increase over this year’s budget.

“For BOCES services, we did trim a little bit,” Forbes said. “We’re down to an increase of $377,571. Basically, we dropped .4 percent to a 15.1 percent increase there.”

Forbes also updated the board on a new allowable tax levy calculation, which previously stood at $15,199,564. The new allowable levy while still staying under the tax cap is $15,237,429, which translates to a 1.05 percent increase, or $158,410. The current proposed levy is still above the allowable levy by $1,269,477.

If the board seeks to override the tax cap, a supermajority vote of over 60 percent will be required to pass the budget.

Also during the meeting, the board approved a contract with Frontier Central School for providing health and welfare services for about 13 students residing in Fredonia but attending non-public schools in Frontier’s district. The contract cost is $5,713 and covers the current school year.

Erin Wahl was appointed as an intern for the school psychologist for next school year. The internship is funded through a $14,000 grant.

The board entered into executive session to discuss negotiations with the Fre-donia Teachers Association.