SHERMAN - In the face of decreasing funding and increasing costs, Sherman Central School is determined to hang on to all of its current programs.
As the district wrangles with creating a budget for the 2014-15 school year, superintendent Kaine Kelly told the board of education last Monday that he feels the programs Sherman offers to its students need to be preserved.
"I think it's important to continue the programs we have ... Other things can be cut to make it work,"
The district is facing several financial challenges, including the recent veterans' exemption, which would give veterans a break on their school taxes. Kelly recently met with other superintendents regarding the exemption, but said there is just not enough data yet to determine its effect on schools.
"I recommend we take a wait and see approach to see what everyone will do," he said.
Additionally, Kelly told the board that the state is re-interpreting how the carry-over created by the 2 percent tax cap is calculated. Formerly, districts believed that if they could levy fewer taxes than the maximum amount allowed, the difference would carry-over into the next year's calculation.
However, the current method of calculating the maximum amount a district can levy eliminates most, if not all, of the carry-over, Kelly said. "The long and short is obvious," he said. "Any points you don't levy, you will probably never see again."
This creates a dilemma for school districts, Kelly said. "If you don't levy the maximum, you can be hurting the district in the future. But it you do levy it (the maximum percentage allowed), you could go beyond your fiscal responsibility to the community," he said. "Regardless of the law, we are never going to levy more than our community can handle.'
Although all figures from the budget are preliminary, the maximum tax increase that Sherman could levy in the coming year is approximately 4.12 percent, according to district treasurer Kimbery Oehlbeck.
Overall, the district is financially stable, Kelly said. "We're not rich, but we're not destitute, either," he said. "We're getting to where it's pretty tight."
Kelly said the district is looking into moving funds from various grants to cover projected costs. As it stands now, the budget shows a deficit of more than $200,000, which leaves us a lot of work yet to do," he said.
In other business, Kelly said that a voucher the district received from a class action lawsuit against Microsoft Corp about five years ago will be used to purchase iPads for the third and fourth grade. This technology will remain with the students so that next year, fourth through seventh grade will be able to go paperless.
Kelly said he met with Ripley superintendent Dr. Lauren Ormsby about sharing services in a pre-school for three and four year olds.
Kelly also said he responded to Buffalo television station WGRZ regarding their request for information on the district's football equipment. The station is considering a story on the safety of the equipment at the high school level. After consulting with district lawyers, Kelly said there was no reason not to disclose the information.