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03/24/09 07:00 AM

Island School Board looks to state

By Rick Ahrens

The Grand Island School Board is hoping the state will be able to pass its budget by April 1, leaving the board with less than a week to finalize spending for the 2009-10 school year.

As the district’s April 6 deadline approaches, administrators say they are still uncertain of the ultimate form state aid could take. Superintendent Robert Christmann said that the amount of unclear information this budget season has been, to him, almost unprecedented.

“I’ve worked on a lot of school district budgets over the years,” he said, “but there’s never been a time when I’ve known so little about so much.”

The board said it is hoping to recoup some or all of the $1.9 million in funding that was previously cut by the state. The current, second draft of the district budget assumes a $1.5 million restoration in funding, an estimate the board called “conservative.”

Board members said they expect Albany to complete a budget by Friday. Additional adjustments to the budget would be made following its release.

“In the past, everything we’ve been given has been taken away in part,” said board President Richard Little Jr. “We can’t count on anything right now.”

The board also said it is looking to reduce professional staff funding by up to $380,000. There will be some flexibility with the staff reductions, members said, and the board will be meeting with schools in the district to get an idea of where reductions could be made.