Panama School Board Begins Look At 2018-19 Budget

Members of the Panama School Board discuss the district’s 2018-19 budget at a meeting in March. P-J file photo by Jordan Patterson

By Jordan W. Patterson

PANAMA – The Panama Board of Education discussed the financial future of the school district at a meeting earlier this week.

Bert Lictus, superintendent of Panama Central School, said the district is hopeful the governor’s official budget will feature larger foundation aid increases than previously announced earlier in the year.

During the meeting, Lictus and Amanda Kolstee, district treasurer, updated the board on the current status of the projected 2018-19 budget. Due to capital exclusions, Lictus noted that the current budget proposal accounts for the district adding $97,000 to debt services in next year’s budget with the goal of keeping the tax levy flat and not exceeding the tax cap.

The current projected outlook for next year without an increase in state aid sets the 2018-19 budget at $13,825,425, estimated revenues at $9,570,521 with the tax levy bringing in $3,464,980.

The remaining deficit is currently projected to be $789,924. Lictus remained hopeful that any increases from the governor’s final budget would offset some amount of the current deficit Panama is facing.

“Hopefully we get a little bump,” Lictus said.

During the meeting, the board was also updated on school safety.

“The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department has taken an initiative to send out (deputies) to come out to our building and visit our building regularly,” said Danielle Cook, secondary principal.

Cook said the local law enforcement are being described to students as being part of a “safety team.”

Related to student safety, Cook updated the board on the national walkout day that took place on March 14. Panama allowed students with interest in participating the option to “walk out” to the auditorium. She noted that an estimated 30 students participated and were then led in a discussion about expressing political opinions, protesting and safety in schools.

“They had a lot good thoughts and a lot of good ideas,” Cook said. “We we’re very pleased with how that went.”