As officials at the Greater Amsterdam School District embark on the 2013-14 budget process, their greatest ambition is to avoid program and personnel cuts.
“We would have loved to add electives,” said Business Manager Kim Brumley, “but at this point we just want to keep things steady.”
Her first budget draft is based upon the current school year. Brumley rolled over all the program and personnel expenses from 2012-13 with cost adjustments for the new year, “just to see how that would look,” she said.
The problem is, with increases in utility costs, contract-mandated salaries and health insurance premiums, the same programs will cost $2.3 million more in 2013-14 than was projected in the 2012-13 budget.
“Part of that increase is gas and electric,” she said, “but most of it is benefits and salaries.”
Some of that increase is covered by $700,000 in gap elimination state aid, but Brumley was quick to point out foundation aid hasn’t increased in six years.
“When the economy really took a turn for the worse back in 2010-11 the state took away $2.6 million of our aid,” she said, “Since then they’ve been trying to give a little back. We still get less than we did three years ago.”
The district also plans to draw $525,000 from the fund balance, the same amount budgeted for the 2012-13 school year.
The district is still very early in the budget process, but initial drafts show a funding gap of over a half-million dollars.
“Our budget is over $60 million,” she said. “So $565,000 is sort of small in the scheme of things, but I guess every dollar counts.”
To avoid making cuts, she’ll have to work a little financial magic to close the gap by spring.
“In the coming weeks we’re going to delve into the budget,” she said, “and hopefully find some creative ways to save without cutting programs.”
Since over 60 percent of the district’s early budget goes to employee benefits and wages, she said, that will be one of the most efficient areas to find savings.
District officials are planning negotiations with the Teachers Union and Civil Service Employees Association to find a less expensive health insurance plan.
A tentative budget will be voted in April 30, so there are two months left to sort things out.
“But I’m working on this 12 months a year,” she said.
For information or to view up-to-date copies of Brumley’s budget presentations, visit www.gasd.org.