Frewsburg School Board Approves Budget

The Frewsburg Central School District will present voters with a school budget of $17,775,530. The Frewsburg School Board also approved a capital outlay project for the 2019-20 school year. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

FREWSBURG – The Frewsburg Central School Board will support a $17,775,530 school budget, but the school district was forced to make adjustments after foundation aid was less than anticipated.

“We were hopeful that the final legislative budget would come in close to (the district’s budget shortfall) or a substantial amount close,” Superintendent Shelly O’Boyle said.

However, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget was finalized, the district had to look elsewhere to offset its budget.

The Frewsburg school district 2019-20 proposed school budget will carry a 2.66 percent tax levy increase from the previous year, using all of the state-allowed tax cap. The total tax levy of $5,543,902, is a $143,730 increase from the 2018-19 enacted budget. The overall proposed school budget carries a $34,093 increase from the previous year that totalled $17,741,437.

At the time of the last board meeting in March, the district needed to account for $237,945 to balance its budget. O’Boyle said the hope was an increase of foundation aid from the state’s legislative budget would help reduce that gap.

However, the district received a $69,765 increase from the state’s proposal in January to the approved state budget on April 1. In total, the district received $7,596,392 for the 2019-20 school year, up $153,480 from the $7,442,912 of foundation aid received in the 2018-19 school year.

The district was then tasked with either raising revenues or reducing expenditures by $168,180. Business Manager Jerome Lee Yaw “went with both.”

The district increased revenue estimations by $70,000 including local revenues, Medicaid and additional reserves from a previous draft of the school’s proposed budget.

For expenditures, the district reduced its estimated expenses by $98,180. The decreases included reductions to buildings and grounds, transportation, salaries and benefits.

The district will use $600,000 of its fund balance to equalize the budget. The district intended on reducing the amount of fund balance appropriation each school year going forward.

“In a perfect world, that appropriation of fund balance would be 0,” Yaw said.

The district’s long-term goal is to reduce its appropriation to $200,000. However, O’Boyle said with consideration of a downward trend in foundation aid increases, a more attainable goal would be to reduce that number to $500,000 in its five-year outlook. State aid is almost 70 percent of the district’s budget, Yaw said.

“Our overall goal is to get down to $200,000,” O’Boyle said. “We know it’s not realistic to go from $600,000 to $200,000 in five years or a couple of years because of the trend of state aid.”

O’Boyle praised Yaw’s work to successfully balance the budget. The community will vote on the proposed budget on May 21.

Additionally, the board approved a capital outlay project for the 2019-20 school year. Capital outlay projects can be up to $100,000 and do not have to be approved by district voters dissimilar to the much larger capital improvement projects. The project will focus on basin re-work in the middle and high school as well as reconstructing a vestibule in the building that’s deteriorating.

In other news, the board celebrated the championship win of Frewsburg’s Quiz Bowl team at Jamestown Community College on April 3. In the 58 years of the district’s participation, this is its first championship.

The 2018-19 Varsity Boys Bowling team and Wrestling team both received sportsmanship awards from the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association.