SHERMAN - Two retirements will save Sherman School District more than $190,000 in the coming year.
Acting on the recommendation of Superintendent Thomas Schmidt, board members voted at their regular meeting on Wednesday, March 14 not to fill the vacancies left by pre-kindergarten teacher Patricia Murphy and special education teacher Elizabeth Maurer, who will retire effective July 1. Including benefits, these positions will provide an unexpected decrease in expenses of $197,000 for next year's budget.
"Our numbers will not be affected and this will save some of our bright young teachers," Schmidt said.
Photo by David Prenatt
New guidance counselor Chelsea Winchester was officially introduced to the Sherman Central School’s Board of Education at is meeting on Wednesday, March 14.
The retirement of a long-time school bus driver is also expected to decrease expenses further, Schmidt said, but the amount is unknown because the district is still negotiating the cost of a replacement.
The budget for the 2012-13 school year will be finalized at the board's meeting on April 18. District treasurer Kimberly Oehlbeck reported that, at this point, total revenue is expected to increase by about 2 percent, while expenditures are anticipated to rise only about 1.85 percent, thanks largely to these retirements.
Under a recently passed cap on tax increases for school districts, Sherman district could raise taxes 2 percent plus a 1.57 percent carryover that it did not impose on the current budget for a total of 3.57 percent. Any larger increase would have to pass a public vote by more than a 61 percent majority. The board discussed several options involving using the district's fund balance to offset expenses.
"This year is a very tight budget and we don't want to say at this point that we will have enough carryover to offset the increases," Oehlbeck said.
Schmidt noted nothing can be determined yet because the state has yet to release much of its aid, which may provide additional revenue before the budget is finalized.
"We have to wait and see what we have in revenue next month," he said.
In other business, Schmidt reported an agreement has been reached with Clymer School District which will enable students from there to take classes in Sherman's physics lab.
"They are in need of physics and we have a good physics teacher," he said. "That's a big deal."
Schmidt said Clymer students will not be charged any extra fees for this service. Rather, the agreement reflects the ongoing cooperative spirit the school has with neighboring districts, especially Clymer and Panama. He noted last year Clymer used its handicap-accessible bus to transport a student from Sherman without charging.
"We have a nice way of doing things together with our neighbors and we're not going to charge for it," Schmidt said. "There are classes we can offer and there are classes we can receive."
He said he expects the districts to share more classes and services in the coming years.
In a related manner, the board unanimously voted to politely decline an invitation from Westfield School District to engage in talks about a possible consolidation. The invitation was sent to Sherman, Brocton, Chautauqua Lake and Ripley districts.
Schmidt said he recommended declining the offer largely because of differing weather patterns. For instance, Sherman could have a blizzard while the other districts have very little snow, making a cancellation or two-hour delay difficult to schedule.
"Any time you come off the ridge, it changes everything," he said.
Board member Brian Bates said the board should find ways to cooperate with these schools in other ways.
"It would be nice if we could branch out our shared services that way," he said.
The board also officially met its new guidance counselor, Chelsea Winchester, who comes to the district from the Erie 2 BOCES Ashville office. Schmidt applauded Winchester's first two weeks of work.
"She jumped in with both feet and is doing a fantastic job," he said. "The kids really like her."
The board approved plans for the senior class to travel to Washington D.C. and Baltimore March 30 to April 1.
The board nominated Anne Ehrlich, Nancy Renckens and Nancy Stock to seek re-election, as well as Gary DeLellis who is seeking first-time election, to the BOCES district for Erie, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.