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NNCS school board meeting Monday for budget work session

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NORFOLK - Norwood-Norfolk Central School officials have narrowed the gap between expenditures and revenues in their 2013-14 budget proposal, but there’s still more work to do.

The district’s board of education reviewed the latest budget numbers during their meeting on Tuesday, and they will be holding a special budget work session at 7 p.m. Monday to try and decrease the gap even more.

“We did have the opportunity to once again look at our budget projections. We have managed to narrow our gap,” Superintendent Elizabeth A. Kirnie said.

She said they were originally looking at a $608,000 gap between their projected revenues and projected expenses, but that’s been cut down a bit.

“Through some adjustments and so on we are now at a $299,000 gap,” Mrs. Kirnie said.

Prior to those adjustments, their budget draft had shown a revenue budget of $19,516,516 and an expenditure budget of $20,629,647. It used $505,000 of appropriated fund balance, leaving a gap of $608,131.

Their first draft, which had used no reserves or appropriated fund balance, showed a projected revenue budget of $18,572,832 and a projected expenditure budget of $20,654,515, leaving a gap of $2,081,683.

Although they’ve made progress in chipping away at the gap, there’s more work to do, according to the superintendent.

“That being said, we did discuss different scenarios so the board knows that there are other avenues to balance the budget other than on the backs of teaching positions,” she said.

They, like other schools, are waiting to hear how they’ll make out in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget. In the meantime, among the options they’ll be discussing Monday is stabilizing their employee retirement system payments through amortization.

Mrs. Kirnie said they’ll also likely be discussing increasing the tax levy, using more of their reserves and fund balance and “paying ahead on some debt services to free up some money.”

“Aside from staff cuts, we’re looking at five other options. In some combination we hope by the end of the budget work session to have a better understanding of how we’re going to close it,” she said.

In addition to their Monday work session, the board of education will hold their second and final community forum from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the elementary cafeteria. The forum had originally been scheduled for Feb. 27, but was postponed because of inclement weather.

All interested district residents and local business owners are invited to participate, as district officials update them on the financial condition of the school district and the future of its educational programs.

Although registration isn’t required, RSVPs are encouraged by calling District Clerk Barbara Halpin at 353-9951, ext. 2604.

During their meeting this week, board of education members also discussed plans for a capital project that would address safety and security in the district.

“The Facilities Committee is starting to put together a scope of work for a project that will focus on safety and security. Now we are in the process of preparing an RFP (request for proposal) and discussing what needs to be done,” Mrs. Kirnie said.

The project will also address saving money through energy efficiency, she said.

“We have so much of our infrastructure that is original equipment. When a boiler was put in, for example, it was when the building was built. You have to be prepared at some point to recognize it’s past its useful life,” she said.

Board members also learned this week that the district’s elementary school was eligible for $37,000 in technology vouchers stemming from a 2006 settlement agreement between New York state consumers and Microsoft Corporation.

“It’s non-competitive, meaning if we do the required application process the money is ours,” Mrs. Kirnie said.

She said they intend to use the funding “to improve readiness for the upcoming computer-based testing. For that reason, we are going to be studying and waiting. We have until November 2014 to spend the funding. We’re going to wait until we know what is appropriate and recommended for the computer-based testing.”

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