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WACS likely to face deficit in coming year

March 3, 2016
By David Prenatt ( , Westfield Republican

Westfield Academy and Central School District will most likely face a deficit in the budget for the coming year, board of education members learned at their regular meeting Monday, Feb. 22.

Superintendent David Davison told board members that, although budget work has just begun, the district must deal with the challenge of rising costs, especially in health insurance. Additionally, the governor's proposal of state aid is about $100,000 short of what was expected, he said. All of these factors could create a deficit of several hundred thousand dollars, Davison said.

Davison reiterated that, in the face of this, the board must keep the students as the primary focus. Davison referred board members to the Mission Statement on the wall and reminded them that it says: "With a commitment to excellence, Westfield Academy and Central School, in partnership with the community, will educate all students to the highest level of their academic potentials, teaching them the skills and knowledge to become capable and responsible members of society."

Article Photos

Photo by David Prenatt
Robert Nordin of the architechtural firm Clark Patterson Lee speaks to WACS board of education members about the district’s five-year plan.

"We want to provide the greatest opportunities and services to all of our students and still remain fiscally responsible," Davison said. "We must put forth a budget that will provide the best education for our kids, yet be financially responsible to the taxpayers," he added.

WACS business manager Anthony Montoro reviewed preliminary figures for various aspects of the budget. One positive element was that retirements have allowed a "significant reduction" in salaries, he said. Montero also noted that natural gas prices have fallen, the cost of electricity has gone up, and water and telephone costs remain relatively constant.

Montoro also said the anticipated deficit could be lessened by taking grounds repair costs out of the budget and working them into the capital improvement project that will soon be underway. Also, many items listed in equipment can be moved to the supply budget, which has grown considerably, he said.

Montoro noted that the district will need to purchase a full-size bus equipped for handicapped students. At present, special needs children must be transported separately in a smaller bus, thereby requiring two vehicles and extra personnel for field trips and the like, he said.

In other business, Robert Nordin, primary associate of the architectural firm Clark Patterson Lee, told board members that the state education department has approved the district's Facilities Reconstruction Project. The firm anticipates beginning to seek bids sometime in March, with construction slated to begin in the summer, he said.

Nordin also reviewed several projects from the district's five-year facilities plan, noting that changes can be made as the plan progresses. "This is a living document," he said. "If the district wishes to go to a referendum on any project, we can modify it."

In other business, Davison and Montero told board members that they have received six applications for the position of Director of Facilities. All candidates have been interviewed and the field has been narrowed to two well-qualified candidates, they said.

Davison and Montero invited board members to assist in the final interview process. Board of Education members indicated that they did not feel a need to be involved unless a third party is needed to make the final decision.

Davison noted that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, and school districts must continue to administer high quality assessments to ensure that all students are prepared for success in college and careers.

Montero reported that the process of developing the 2016-2017 budget involves putting all information into WinCap, which is a financial and human resources management system. "This is the first step toward modernizing and streamlining the process of budget development," Montero added.



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