Forestville school district needs to close its budget gap

FORESTVILLE – The Forestville School Board gathered recently to go over the school budget with School Business Administrator Carolyn Robertson.

“We have been promised additional state aid,” Robertson said. “As history shows us, we need that extra help to close the tax gap.”

Robertson added it is really hard for schools to function on a 1 percent tax cap.

“It is a really tough picture,” she said. “We will have to adjust.”

Robertson announced due to a favorable interest rate the debt service budget will go down this year.

“We worked under the notion we make everything last,” she said. “We have been working with the same computers for five to six years; we will need to buy new computers.”

Superintendent Chuck Leichner and Robertson have been working together to crunch the numbers.

“We needed to cut out any wish list items,” Robertson said. “We only included critical needs to put in the budget.”

Leichner added some things will need to be taken out of the budget.

“There is a need; no frivolous wish list items,” he said. “The BOCES fixed charges are out of control, but lunch fund and equipment may change.”

In order to close the gap Forestville needs to come up with $577,767.

“Right now the tax gap is not tipping in our favor,” Robertson said.

There are two scenarios offered to close the gap; one involves 1.46 percent tax levy and the other a 3.0 percent tax levy.

“No matter what scenario we chose we will still have to do three things to close the gap,” Robertson said. “We will increase taxes, use our reserves, and cut costs.”

Robertson said scenario one is really tying their hands together.

“There isn’t a lot of room,” she said. “It is a tough one.”

Robertson added she hopes to get out of this hole.

“With scenario two we could go higher with the tax levy increase and the difference would be an extra $50,000 of revenue,” she said. “I don’t think it is worth the extra $50,000.”

Robertson said the state will see the light.

“They will see the light and see 1 percent isn’t enough for schools to operate,” she said.

Robertson recommended the board go with 1.46 percent tax levy for now and it can always be changed later.

Leichner addressed the idea of having shared services added to the budget.

“We may see aid for shared sports programs in the future,” he said. “Right now there is no extra money with merging sports.”