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Elimination of GEA puts district in better budget position

April 5, 2016

District officials were pleased with the positive financial news that filtered in last week in the form of the end of the Gap Elimination Adjustment and the final rates for the district’s health care plans.

Schalmont had been facing a budget gap of $1.12 million and officials and board members were wrestling with difficult decisions in terms of cuts to balance the budget.

With the adoption of the New York state budget April 1 came the end to the Gap Elimination Adjustment, a take-back of aid from the state that has cost the district more than $8 million since instituted in 2009-10. As a result, the district received an additional $489,000 in state money.

“Thank you to all the parents, community members, students, and staff that advocated on our behalf,” Superintendent Carol Pallas said. “We believe that it helped.”

The final rates for the district’s Blue Shield plan were also set last week. The monthly rate decrease, coupled with the increased employee contribution, results in a $200,000 savings.

Also added into the budget equation are a number of recently announced retirements of Schalmont staff. The salary differential for new employees for these positions will save the district an additional $150,000.

This leaves the district facing a budget gap of $281,184.

“This number is much close to the budget gap we have normally seen in the past,” Pallas said.

In a draft budget presented to the board last night, Pallas recommended the following to bridge the budget gap:

Reduction                                                                                             Savings

Reduce staff by 1 FTE at the elementary level                                         $50,000

Eliminated 3 FTE Teacher on Special Assignment positions                      $150,000

Reduce K-12 supply budget by 10 percent, Spec. Ed by 5 percent           $30,000

Eliminate K-4 supplemental supplies                                                         $16,200

Reduce non-instructional staff (no replacements for retirements)             $30,000

                                                                                                Total           $281,200

Superintendent Pallas will make her final recommendations to the board at the April 19 meeting at 7 p.m. in the MS LGI. After which, the board will adopt a budget to put up for vote on May 17. Voting on May 17 takes place from 6 a.m.- 9 p.m. in the new gym lobby of the high school.