BEDFORD, N.Y. – Under the preliminary budget for the 2013-14 school year that Superintendent Jere Hochman presented Wednesday night to the school board, the Bedford Central School District faces a long road ahead with a $3.7 million gap between its spending plan and its estimated funding resources.
The only way to bridge that gap appears to be significant cuts.
“This process has been a challenge, but the leaders in our school district have really stepped up to say, ‘OK, we get it,’” said Hochman.
Ideally, the district would like to operate with a preliminary 2013-14 budget of $127,955,611. However, to fit under the estimated state tax levy cap of 3.37 percent, the district begins with a figure of $111,604,082. That, in addition to a non-tax revenue figure of $9,571,714 and the applied surplus reserves of $3,054,335, provides a total estimated funding sources of $124,229,131.
To meet this figure, the district faces $3.7 million to $3.8 million in cuts in the next couple of weeks.
“There’s a little bit of wiggle room here, but not much,” said Hochman. “What we need to do now is make sure all of these cuts are feasible before we make them.”
Here is the complete list of budget cuts under consideration:
- Elementary staffing: $670,000
- Middle school staffing: $315,000
- High school staffing: $1,018,000
- Other secondary staffing: $93,000
- Districtwide staffing: $515,000
- Professional development: $560,000
- Student programs: $198,000
- Other efficiencies: $515,00
- Estimated savings: $3,884,000
Cuts could include up to 30 staff members throughout the district, with possible reductions of 10 staff positions in the elementary school staffing, 3.5 in the middle school and 12.4 in the high school.
But the school has to answer one question about all else, Hochman said.
“What do we want to look like in five years?” he said. “When you look ahead, it’s bleak. These $4 million cut stories will not change anytime soon. We need to figure out how can we maintain and preserve our core — what Bedford stands for — knowing that’s what the trajectory is. It’s not just about next year.”
Bedford, like many other Westchester County school districts, finds itself behind the eight ball due to “major budget drivers,” such as a $2.8 million increase in pensions, a $500,000 increase in health care costs, a $2.3 million increase in salaries and a $130,000 increase in transportation costs.
Hochman’s proposed preliminary budget represents a 1.25 percent increase over this year's budget without those factors -- but a 4.28 percent increase with them.
Though the two-hour presentation gave a gloomy outlook, Hochman was confident the district would find a way to function at a high level.
“Some things we will add. Some things we will change. Some things we will subtract,” he said. “But we will do our job — we will teach kids.”
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