Niagara Gazette — Those gathered at Niagara-Wheatfield High School Wednesday with an ear toward proposed cuts to district programs were left in the dark.
School board President Steve Sabo said he and his six fellow elected members are providing their full-time superintendent, Lynn Fusco, and business manager, Allison Brady – both firsts in the district since Sabo and a board majority took office in July 2011 – full authority to make the necessary cuts to the academic program for 2014-15.
Sabo said the board’s taking a backseat to the paid personnel this year and letting them make the decisions to best serve the children attending school.
“We pay them to make these decisions,” he said. “We’re going to let them make them.”
While they won’t have precise cuts to the district, Fusco said there will be much more detail about which way she’s leaning in terms of ironing out the district’s finances by the time the board meets next, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 23 in the adult learning center at the high school, 2292 Saunders Settlement Road, Lewiston.
It’s at this meeting the board will be required to adopt its overall spending figure, which would need to be balanced with the total revenues Fusco has projected. With the board’s previous action adopting a 4.8 percent tax levy increase proposal last month, it’s expected Fusco will recommend a $64.6 million spending plan for 2014-15.
Including the tax levy increase, which needs to be approved by voters along with the total expenditure figure during May’s budget vote, and additional state aid expected due to the state’s own budget adoption Monday evening, Fusco is facing a less daunting task than it originally appeared.
State lawmakers approved a 5.85 percent change in aid for the district compared to current year levels, which comes out to about $1.3 million in more revenue. Fusco, operating her projections based on the proposal made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget from January, only received an additional $800,000 funding once the final figures were calculated.