JPS Board Approves Final 2013-14 Budget Proposal

The Jamestown Public Schools District’s final proposed budget for the 2013-14 school year has been approved by the board of education.

On Tuesday, the board approved a resolution to officially adopt, pending voter results next month, a district budget in the amount of $75,369,680.

Due in large part to a state aid decrease of $3,749,965, the budget would constitute $1,426,012, or 1.86 percent, less than the 2012-13 budget. This year, the district faced an overall budget gap of $4,603,312, which had to be closed through a series of recommended equipment and personnel modifications.

“We’ve got the best of a not-so-great situation,” said Joe DiMaio, president of the board. “The most difficult thing to is, when you look at that budget gap, not to panic. We worked hard to get (the budget) to where we felt we need it to be.”

The expenditure and revenue budgets were presented by Dale Weatherlow, assistant superintendent for administration. In order to make up for the budget gap, the expenditure budget indicated cuts to areas including: certified salaries, support staff salaries, equipment, contractual expenses, materials and supplies, employee benefits, principle and interest debt service and interfund transfers.

Textbook expenditures reflected no change, while BOCES services showed a $709,010 increase. According to Deke Kathman, JPS superintendent, that number was originally well over the $1 million mark.

The budget gap was also mitigated through miscellaneous revenues, of which Weatherlow attributed mostly to debt service reserve funds, as well as a proposed increase of $500,000 in appropriated fund balance.

The 2013-14 budget will be presented at a 7 p.m. public hearing at Persell Middle School on May 14, and will be up for public vote on May 21.

In other business, the board recognized the Jamestown High School Express Winter Guard for its second-place finish at the Winter Guard International’s regional championships, which took place in Dayton, Ohio, on April 11-12. Marc Lentsch, Express coach, made a brief presentation, which was followed by video of Express performing at the competition. In gratitude for this recognition, four members of Express, which missed out on first-place by .005 of a point, also presented medals to board members.

Kathman also announced an extensive review process that the district will be undertaking as the result of “troubling gaps” in the student achievement of some of the district’s subgroups. The process is based on the state Education Department’s “Diagnotic Tool for School and District Effectiveness” and its six tenets. It involves the surveying of staff, students and parents, requires individual school communities to conduct a formal self-assessment and culminates with the development of an extensive and formal school improvement plan.

“(With JPS’) designation as a focus district, and each of our schools being focus schools, we have to be very deliberate about assessing our weaknesses, program strengths and making a plan to improve. So, this is a substantial process that’s about to unfold,” said Kathman.

Kathman said the district’s focus district designation came about through the academic performance of two subgroups: students with disabilities and limited English proficient students.