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O-E faces budget gap

November 25, 2012
The Leader Herald

ST. JOHNSVILLE - The Oppenheim-Ephratah Central School District Board of Education has begun work on the 2013-14 budget, facing projections that show almost a $738,000 gap between revenues and expense, according to a news release from the district.

The budget includes projected double-digit increases in employee-benefits costs and no spending for any new programs. The proposal also assumes no increase in state aid for next year, and does not project an increase in the tax levy, according to the release.

"Considering the state's financial situation, we're not comfortable at this point assuming there is going to be an increase in state aid," Superintendent Dan Russom said in the release. "However - despite rising costs and decreased revenue - the needs of our students and the demands being placed on schools continue to increase."

Many of the budget increases projected for next year are beyond the board's control, including a 16 percent increase in contribution costs for the state Teachers Retirement System and a 20 percent increase in contribution costs for the Employee Retirement System.

The district also faces a 15 percent increase in health insurance costs for next year, district officials said.

State mandates and the needs of students are also increasing, Russom said in the release.

"We need more remedial instruction for our students including math support at the elementary level," he said. "We're also are looking at expanding our business offerings and hoping to bring back the K-2 art instruction that was reduced. Our budget challenge isn't simply to find a way to cut expenses to match our revenues. We also need to weigh the needs of our students and look for ways to improve our educational offerings."

The board will meet Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. to discuss the budget.

Board members will review spending in several areas, including BOCES career and technical and special education costs, bus lease expenses and school electives, Russom said.



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