Weekly Feature

2017-02-16 / Education

Maryvale faces budget shortfall as 2017-18 preparations begin


Maryvale officials and Board of Education members dove into the 2017-18 budget season on Monday night, and the initial figures painted a sobering picture.

According to a rollover budget summary compiled by Stephen Lunden, assistant superintendent for administrative services, the district’s budget is currently projected to increase by about $840,000, which represents a 1.99 percent increase from the 2016-17 adopted budget. Meanwhile, the summary anticipated district revenue to increase nearly $534,000, meaning the current numbers show a projected budget gap of more than $306,000.

The rollover summary shows what it would cost the district to maintain current services in 2017-18, or, as Lunden put it, “What will it cost us in 2017-18 to do what we’re doing right now?” He stressed that the amounts could change between now and the final proposal.

As it stands, the salaries component makes up the largest budget increase in the rollover summary, but Lunden pointed out that some of that is offset by savings on benefits. Both changes result from past contract settlements, Lunden said.

Costs associated with charter school students in the district also showed a significant uptick in the summary. The current budget accounted for 18 students the district knew would attend charter schools, as well as an additional three-student buffer, meaning altogether, the district budgeted for 21 charter school students in this year’s budget. However, that number turned out to be 30 students, so for 2017-18, Lunden’s rollover summary budgeted for 35 students.

On the revenue side, the district is projected to be handcuffed by the property tax cap. Although the cap is billed as a flat, 2-percent ceiling, each district’s actual cap can vary widely, and this year, the formula does not bode well for Maryvale.

“Whenever I talk about it, you know I tell you it’s not a 2-percent tax cap,”Lunden said, citing a bevy of multipliers and components of the formula. “For Maryvale, we’re able to increase our taxes $88,783 ... which is an increase of less than a half of 1 percent, at 0.44 percent.”

According to Superintendent Joseph R. D’Angelo, the district is doing its best to control spending.

“To the critics that say that school districts like to spend, spend, spend, we’re keeping our rollover budget at 1.99 percent. That’s lower than my Direct TV is going up next year,” he said. “The state is starving us.”

D’Angelo said there’s little the district can cut without “decimating what we do.” He said foundation aid and tax cap reform are needed to ensure year-to-year sustainability for districts.

In other matters, the board approved a resolution clearing the way for a new teacher development program that district officials hope will create a pipeline from Buffalo State College to Maryvale’s schools.

The Developing Future Teachers Fellowship program is a joint initiative between Maryvale, Lancaster Central School District and Buffalo State that will place graduate students in classrooms in several capacities, including substitute teachers and teaching assistants. Maryvale will host 10 Buffalo State graduate students as fellows starting Feb. 27. All of the students have been screened by Buffalo State before being accepted into the program. The fellows would receive a stipend for their work, although that amount would be less than the day rate for a regular substitute teacher.

“We’re hoping that this [program] continues to really help the kids at Maryvale and also to develop a solid pool of future teachers,” James Maloney, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said.

He added that fellows who complete the program in good standing would be guaranteed an interview with Maryvale.

The Board of Education will meet twice next month, with the first meeting set for 6 p.m. Monday, March 6, in the Samuel R. Bennett Building, 1050 Maryvale Drive.

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