JPS Board Proposes $505K Budget Increase

A preliminary budget for Jamestown Public Schools was named “reasonable, realistic and responsible” by Superintendent Tim Mains at Monday night’s school board meeting.

A mixture of teachers, parents and community members filled the board room as Mains and Dale Weatherlow, assistant superintendent, provided an information session on the proposed spending plan.

Staff reductions, fiscal responsibility in terms of the fund balance, program adjustments and an increase in school taxes left the board with a proposed budget increase of $505,888, or .67 percent over last year.

“We are asking the board and community to support what we believe is a continuation of the strong traditions that have existed for years within Jamestown Public Schools,” Mains said.

Staff reductions, which would save the district $408,566, seemed to be the most highly anticipated topic of the presentation.

Mains said only one person would actually be laid off if the budget is approved a certified occupational therapy assistant while other reductions involved retirements and part-time positions.

“We have occupational therapists who like having that assistance but are able to deliver the mandated service without having that individual,” he said, adding that the elimination would save $88,422.

A part-time liaison working between schools for universal pre-K would be eliminated, saving $33,760.

The elimination of three elementary school teacher positions after retirement and a small adjustment in class size would save $214,788, while one counselor retirement would save $71,596.

“We heard loud and clear how strongly people felt about the quality and value of the programs we have,” Mains said. “When we made cuts in staff and personnel we made sure those reductions did not negatively impact our programs.”

In other budgetary matters, increasing the school tax levy by 1.31 percent, or $192,500, would result in the first tax increase in four years.

“The state cap that we could go up to is 1.46 percent, so we’re under what the state would allow under tax cap calculations,” Weatherlow said.

Additionally, state aid totaled $3.1 million, which is $1.9 million more than proposed in the state’s preliminary budget.

“A significant amount of people wrote, emailed and called our state representatives,” said Board President, Joseph DiMaio. “Other than the fact that it’s an election year, we saw them listen to us.”

DiMaio said the Gap Elimination Adjustment still affects the budget, but the increase in foundation aid was important.

“We were looking at a really dire budget in the beginning,” he added.

Shifting delivery of programs, such as out-of-school suspension and moving the school’s GED program to BOCES, would save $113,532.

Lastly, budget adjustments in the amount of $268,073 contributed to closing the gap after the tax increase, staff reductions and program adjustments.

“There still may be some slight modifications,” DiMaio said, adding that a final vote will take place on April 22.