Salamanca School Talks Budget

SALAMANCA – Budget talks have taken on more and more of an importance in schools. Increased costs in areas that are mostly beyond control have become the norm. The Salamanca City Central School District has started the process of educating the public on the process of making the budget, piece by piece. Recently, the board heard the process involved in the instructional section.

Instructional budgets are usually the largest in a school district, according to Karen Magara, the district’s business executive. The coming school year is going to be no different.

“This is the meat and potatoes of the budget, the largest portion,” she said.

Instructional costs for a district include such items as curriculum, administration, professional development, teachers, assistants, tuition, library, audio and visual needs, counselors, social workers, psychologists, even athletics. The materials and the personnel involved with each of these items generate a large cost for the district.

Magara said the costs at the given time are nothing more than estimates because a lot of variables still exist, such as New York state aid to schools and BOCES contract costs.

In fact, due to a calendar quirk, the district will be in negotiations with all four of the unions with contracts at the end of the current year. With those negotiations needed, many components will be in the air.

An educated guess can be made, however, when it comes to this large portion of the school budget. According to Magara’s projections, the projected proposed 2014-15 school year instructional budget component will be $13,177,598 at this time. That projection is a 6.77 percent increase over the current year’s approved budget of $12,341,591.

A few new items have been proposed for the 2014-15 school year, according to Robert Breidenstein, district superintendent. Those items include professional development, a tutoring increase, a staff and faculty TecKnowledgy Camp, iPad purchases for freshmen, textbooks and tuition and increased costs at BOCES, and changing staffing levels to include a behavioral specialist, a math specialist for Prospect Elementary School, and two elementary teachers.

The level of professional development is being evaluated, according to Breidenstein, as to need. Items like the math specialist at Prospect Elementary are contingent on a proposed evaluation of a single-campus district for the school that is being investigated and conceptualized after the meeting.

The final change, the addition of two elementary teachers, may come at no additional cost. The district is anticipating the retirement of two faculty members. That will allow for the reallocation of funds to support the new teachers. The retirements will not be known until the filing date of March 1, for those looking to retire.