WESTFIELD - Budget decisions are fast approaching.
With that in mind, the Westfield Academy and Central School's Board of Education saw two presentations at its meeting on Monday, Jan. 9 which focused on where the school's finances are headed and what possible cuts can be made.
First, Business Manager Al Holbrook showed slides similar to his presentation from the board's December meeting. However the updated slides reflected adjustments made by the finance committee to the five-year budget plan. With those adjustments, WACS is able to remain solvent for approximately nine more months until the back end of 2015. All of Holbrook's presentations can be found on the WACS website, www.wacs.wnyric.org.
Holbrook also reminded board members of the three budget building objectives for Westfield as approved in the December meeting: the tax levy will be at or below the tax levy limit, or voter approved threshold; the budget will be developed by all stakeholders; and fund balance reserves will be done in a fiscally prudent manner.
The finance committee also presented two recommendations that were approved unanimously by the board with no discussion. They are to maximize revenue through the levy limit, but not to exceed an amount that would require a supermajority vote of 60 percent and to appropriate $575,000 from the fund balance.
Interim Superintendent Margaret Sauer followed with a presentation listing all of the non-mandated programs at WACS and the cost of each in order to start determining how $630,000 is going to be cut for the 2012-13 school year. Sauer listed any programs not required by either the state or Federal governments in the elementary, middle and high school as well as BOCES services and district wide programs.
Sauer said the district is open to additional suggestions from the board and the community.
"This is our school and I guess what it comes down to is what are we going to look like?" Sauer said.
In a report by the personnel committee, board member Steve Cockram said the search for a new superintendent is still on schedule and a brochure announcing the vacancy and what the board is looking for in a candidate has been created. The deadline for applicants is Friday, Feb. 17 and the brochure is available on the district's website under "Employment."
During public comment, Westfield resident and parent of multiple WACS students Don Wood asked the board to reconsider how its policy 3210 which deals in part with parent's escorting children to school.
"Please reconsider that policy," he said. "It only takes one.
"I challenge the board to let the press know the cost of that capital project (to create the bus loop) that way we as parents will know the price you put on our child's lives" Wood said.
In her board commentary, board president Marie Edwards responded to Wood saying she disagreed the policy presents a safety risk.
"I don't think we are just opening the door and letting people in and out freely, I think we were told that there is someone there," Edwards said. "It's not a price we're putting on a person's life."
She also added she does not think policy and implementation are the same thing and has faith in the staff at WACS.