Full-day kindergarten among four programs protected by Williamsville
After a board discussion about district programming that lasted nearly an hour, the Williamsville School Board on Jan. 10 agreed to remove four areas from a list of possible budget reductions that were submitted to the board by Superintendent Scott Martzloff in December.
The four areas the board agreed to save from the list of potential cuts were full-day kindergarten, school libraries, languages other than English and an alternative high school program to assist students.
Prior to the board agreeing to remove the four areas, which total approximately $3.1 million, the total of Martzloff’s list of nearly 70 possible reductions was about $11.1 million. He said the district is faced with a budget gap of nearly $5.6 million for 2012-13.
In his presentation to the board, Martzloff said the gap is a result of past state aid reductions, higher fixed expenses and the elimination of federal jobs funding as well as the state property tax cap of 2 percent.
During the board’s discussion of what areas from the list members would not want eliminated, each member in attendance stated his or her displeasure with the possibility of moving to half-day kindergarten
“I could not envision us at all going to half-day kindergarten,” said board member Bill Freeman.
Board President Michael Littman, as well as member Stephanie Gelber, said cutting full-day kindergarten and the languages other than English program in the sixth and seventh grades would be detrimental to student learning.
“I think it’s invaluable to student learning,” Littman said. “We should not eliminate any more middle school languages.”
The board’s analysis of the possible reductions continued until each member agreed that the four areas should not be altered in any way during the creation of next year’s budget.
“I am OK with working to steer away from those four areas in moving forward with developing the budget,” Martzloff said.
He requested that board members be prepared for the Jan. 24 budget work session by discussing other areas that they would not want to eliminate.
“During the work session, we can hear more from the community, and hopefully the board can also discuss other areas they do not want to cut from the budget,” Martzloff said.
In another matter, Martzloff said the district has received approximately 200 questionnaires from the community regarding budget development.
The forms were posted on the district’s website as a way for residents to communicate their questions and concerns with district officials.
“As a result, we have put together ‘Q and A’ documents to answer all of the questions that were most frequently asked,” Martzloff said. “The ‘Q and A’ will be posted on our website as an easy tool for people to refer to. As we move forward, we may make more ‘Q and A’ sheets as the questions on budget development come in.”
The district will hold its budget work session and public forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, in the boardroom of the District Offices, 105 Casey Road, East Amherst.
For more information about the budget development, visit the district’s website at www.williamsvillek12.org. The full list of possible reductions is available at http://www.williamsvillek12.org/files/filesystem/BUDGET12-13(JAN10).pdf