As numbers are returned to area schools, The Westport Central School Board of Education must find ways to make up for reductions in state funding.
Westport Superintendent Dr. John Gallagher said he hopes to keep the school functioning at the same level of programs offered and keep the current staff.
The 2012-13 budget of $5,408,000 compared to projected 2013-14 expenditures of $5,436,021 leaves a gap of $28,021.
Revenues are expected to increase $15,506 from the 2012-13 total of $5,408,000 to $5,423,506 for 2013-14.
That includes a $122,174 increase to the tax levy (from $3,249,654 to $3,371,828), which represents the maximum amount the board can raise under the state tax levy cap formula.
Those numbers leave a deficit of $12,515, which Gallagher said the district must find a way to reduce.
Some of the cost increases are $31,869 more for Board of Cooperative Educational Services costs, $30,072 increase for health insurance, and $83,451 for the Teachers Retirement System.
Gallagher and the School Board plan to use $132,251 of fund balance to help with the budget. Gallagher said they were hopeful additional state funding would help with the gap. Currently, the district has seen a reduction of $86,000 due to the state’s Gap Elimination program.
To maintain the programs, Gallagher said there will have to be cuts across the board, but he hopes the board can find positive solutions.
“At this point our goal is to maintain staff exactly as it is and maintain activities as they are now,” said Gallagher.
Gallagher has proposed cutting his salary by $6,000 a year; swapping certain field trips like a trip to Canada with a trip to the 1812 Homestead; and cutting down on the number of scrimmages students athletes attend.
“That doesn’t mean there won’t be cuts in programs,” he said. “It’s not the trips or the scrimmages but the mileage to get there.”
Board member Jim Carroll said there are still ways teachers can arrange for field trip funding through various state grant programs.
Shared services were also looked at as a means to save money. Gallagher said the school is seriously looking into sharing cafeteria and bus services.
“There are a lot of things we can share,” he said. “We already share our business office and something as simple as sharing meal schedules can be a big savings.”
Gallagher said it is difficult in these times for the state to reduce funding for schools but continue to raise requirements on the staff and the students.
“It costs as much as $50,000 to implement a new (Annual Professional Performance Review), and that’s with staff volunteering their time,” said Gallagher. “The costs aren’t just monetary, for every minute (Principal Michelle Friedman) and I are not doing administrative work. it seems to be a common conversation across the districts.”
By law, school districts must have their budgets in place by April 26, so they can be put to the voters in May.
The board will next meet Thursday, April 25, at 5:30 p.m. in the school library.
Currently there are four draft budget forecasts available for members of the community to view. Copies can be provided at the school and at the public library.