Board Approves Bemus Point Budget

BEMUS POINT – A $13 million budget already rejected once by residents in the Bemus Point Central School District will again go to a vote.

The school board of education on Monday unanimously approved a 2013-14 academic year spending plan, identical to the one that failed by just 12 votes last month. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, June 11, at 7 p.m.; the re-vote will take place June 18 from 2-8:30 p.m. for district residents.

Superintendent Jacqueline Latshaw said should the spending plan fail again, a contingent budget slashing teachers, equipment and supplies would be adopted based on state mandates. Cuts would total more than $420,000, she said.

Patrick Green, board president, said low voter turnout and a lack of communication likely doomed the budget’s first attempt. He stressed the $13,119,825 budget represents as many cuts as the school district could handle, and pointed out the 5.67 percent tax increase falls below the tax cap allowed by the state.

“There is no fluff in this budget,” Green told reporters following the school board meeting. “There is nothing left to cut. … We need voters to look at what is in the best interest of the children and for the school district.”

In May, voters rejected the budget proposal by a vote of 215 to 227, the only school district in the county not to pass a spending plan. A school bus proposition, however, passed by 58 votes. Green said the school district routinely buys new buses every couple of years due to normal wear and tear.

Latshaw presented the same budget Monday to a full crowd inside the Maple Grove High School cafeteria. She stressed the cuts made over the last several years, including the elimination of swimming in certain grades, the phase-out of French as a foreign language class and the elimination of cheerleading as an activity, among others.

“We have had to cut a number of things,” Latshaw said, noting many school district were just beginning to implement similar reductions. “They are just now making the cuts we have been making in the last five years.”

Green, meanwhile, encouraged residents to attend next week’s public hearing. “We want to get as many opinions as possible,” he said.

In other business Monday, the school board approved a motion to appoint Julie Verdonik to a full-time, 12-month position as principal for Maple Grove Junior-Senior High School. Effective July 1, Verdonik’s annual salary will be $85,000.

The board also agreed to appoint Sterling Stearns as vice principal of the school at an annual salary of $64,000.