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03/11/09 07:24 AM

Isle School Board tackles budget


With the question of federal stimulus money unresolved, the Grand Island Central School District Board of Education began planning the 2009-10 budget at its meeting Monday night.

The board highlighted several facets of a preliminary version of next year’s spending plan. The budget considers circumstances in which no cuts are made, but the board acknowledged that a period of hard revisions lay ahead.

The budget, which would reach about $52 million without cuts, takes into account an estimated $1.5 million in federal aid, which, the board said, was a conservative estimate.

“Regardless of any allowances that come to us through the stimulus package, we are still looking to reduce the budget,” said Superintendent Robert Christmann. “The stimulus money will ultimately only last two years. We have to start making tough decisions now. We have to plan for the long-term, rather than planning year-by-year.”

In the preliminary plan, the board has proposed “just under $1 million” in cuts, without knowing how many will eventually be made. Cuts to personnel, extracurricular activities and energy use are among those under investigation.

The board also will consider later bus schedules, which would mean later pick-up times so buses could accept students from multiple schools and run fewer routes.

The savings, while not huge, are important at this time, said Loraine Ingrasci, assistant superintendent for finance.

“I think that while it’s not a lot of money, the savings will add up for us,” she said.