Bemus Point To Consider Cuts In Upcoming Budget

ELLERY – Staff positions and program offerings could be on the chopping block as Bemus Point Central School prepares another budget under financially strapping circumstances.

Operating within the confines of a perpetually frozen foundation aid formula and a fifth consecutive year of gap elimination adjustments, Bemus Point is facing a budget gap of approximately $300,000 – according to Michael Mansfield, superintendent.

A statewide public outcry calling for a cessation of the gap elimination adjustment – which is projected to withhold $459,384 in funding from Bemus Point this year – has made its way to the floor of the state Assembly in recent years, only to be blocked from approval at the legislative level. Mansfield said the district is holding out a sliver of hope that the gap elimination adjustment will be out of the picture for the 2014-15 budget, but he is not overly optimistic.

“We’ll hope to have some good news before our next Board of Education meeting but, if not, we’re going to have to start looking at closing that (budget) gap,” Mansfield said. “We’re working really hard at building our budget now, and we already have a pretty efficient operation. We’re looking at our options and trying to squeeze everything we can before we start impacting programs or staff, but we’re going to have to start looking at making those kinds of cuts should funding not be restored.”

Mansfield said the board is holding off making decisions on any such cuts until its next scheduled meeting March 10.

During its Monday board meeting, an update was provided on the district’s impending capital project; which was approved by the community in December.

Mansfield said the first capital project item to be undertaken will be the replacement of the Bemus Point Elementary School roof above the art/music and K-2 wing, as stipulated under Proposition One of the district’s capital project proposal last year. Mansfield described the roof replacement as a “relatively straightforward” project, and said construction is anticipated to begin this summer.

Assuming things go as planned in terms of state aid approval, Mansfield said the next capital project item to be addressed will be renovations to the bus garage, which are currently scheduled to begin early next year.

Also during Monday’s meeting, the board finalized a renewal of its shared sports agreement with Chautauqua Lake Central School to combine varsity and JV football programs for a second consecutive year.