Friday, November 21, 2003

Batavia schools tighten belts

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer contributor

BATAVIA - A combination of reduced spending and passage of a 6.9-mill operating levy are needed to keep the Batavia Schools solvent for the next three to five years, school officials say.

Toward that goal the school board this week took the first of two steps to put the issue on the ballot and announced spending cuts. A second vote to put the issue on the March 2 primary ballot likely will be taken Dec. 15.

The levy would increase taxes about $211 annually on a $100,000 house.

"We want to show the public we're not continuing operations as they have been in the past. We're doing things differently," said Superintendent Gary Brooks. The tax increase is anticipated to bring in about $1.3 million annually, said spokesman Paul Varney. That revenue, plus cuts totaling $800,000 to $1 million, should be enough to keep the district in the black for three to five years.

The district is expected to end the current school year with a $150,000 balance but an $893,033 deficit by June 2004, Varney said.

Effective immediately, each of the district's three building budgets along with the transportation, buildings/grounds and technology departments will be cut 10 percent - the second reduction this school year. Professional development trips outside the district are also being eliminated.

A plan to reduce spending further for the 2004-05 school year is being developed but cuts will come from reducing staff and deferring textbook purchases. Things being looked at include making only two bus runs instead of three to pick up and drop off students each day. That could necessitate a change in the school hours.

Other areas being studied for spending reductions include summer school, changes in the district's modified school day alternative to suspension, gifted and special education programs, after-school programs, technology support, custodians, aides and others.


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