Falconer School Board Approves $21.6 Million Budget

FALCONER – The Falconer Central School District is expecting to operate under a budget of $21,601,970 for the 2014-15 school year – pending community approval.

The budget was passed by the Board of Education during its regular meeting Tuesday, giving the district a clear picture of how its program offerings and academic opportunities will progress into the next year.

The overall budget total is reflective of a mere two-tenths of a percent decrease from the budget currently in effect at Falconer. Despite the unwelcome appearance of an aid reduction in the form of the gap elimination adjustment in the newly approved state budget, Superintendent Stephen Penhollow said the adopted budget is the best that could be hoped for in current conditions.

“We feel that this is a very fair budget,” Penhollow said.

With the approval of the state budget Monday evening, Falconer’s final gap elimination adjustment reduction amount was set at $746,155. In light of that, Penhollow said the district has been making the most of its restorations to the gap elimination adjustment while maintaining the integrity of its offerings to students.

“It all kind of ties back to the gap elimination adjustment, which controls and limits the programming we’re able to offer,” he said. “As a result of that, I think we’ve used a lot of fiscal responsibility in prioritizing our additions. Everyone’s worked together through the sharing of services and collective bargaining, and we’ve been able to really control our costs.”

Another crucial feature the district was able to salvage for another year is the offering of college courses, which are sanctioned through a partnership with Jamestown Community College. Penhollow said approximately 50 students in the class of 2013 were able to graduate with 15 or more college credits, and the district is grateful to be able to continue that tradition.

“I think our students will still have the advantage of not only a high-quality Regents education, but also additional college credits,” he said. “We continue to be fiscally prudent when looking at per pupil expenditures, and we feel that we’re still able to offer our kids a high-quality education with this budget.”

Retirement played a leading role in Falconer’s ability to sustain its program offerings, with five teachers slated to retire at the end of the school year. Penhollow said at least four of the positions vacated by the retirees are likely to be eliminated due to attrition.

The district’s tax levy is estimated to increase by 1.48 percent, which Penhollow said will meet all of the tax cap restrictions for the year.

The Falconer budget, along with all other area school budgets, will be subject to a community vote on May 20.