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Department Cuts To Help Westfield Balance Budget

WACS high school and middle school principal Corey Markham is pictured.

WESTFIELD — Westfield Academy and Central School board members learned at a recent supplemental meeting how each department is striving to cut costs in order to help create a balanced budget.

Board members listened as the personnel from computer-assisted instruction, administration, instructional and special education as part of the budget work study session 2.

Corey Markham, high school and middle school principal, reported on the efforts being taken in math, ELA, social studies, foreign languages, science, equipment and supplies and physical education departments.

The physical education department “really did the best and went bare bones,” Markham said. He noted that the department cut its budget down to $650.

“I went down there and I said, ‘You guys have got a hole in your net,’ and they said, ‘We’ll make do,'” Markham said.

Markham also commended the music department, which is trying to repair its instruments and cutting down on supplies to save money. Also, departments such as CTE, yearbook, robotics, coding and art have reduced their costs significantly, he said.

The ELA and math departments have cut their budgets in half, Markham reported. Also, the science department has cut $1,600 from its budget, he said.

“Social studies, which has always been fiscally responsible, has cut its budget in half,” he said.

Some of the expenditures that are needed included calculators, some PE equipment, microscopes, music stands and two new euphonium horns for the music department, Markham said. Also, travel is set at $10,800, he said.

“There are many kinds of travel,” he said citing such examples as math competitions, We The People, NYSSMA competitions and field trips.

Dr Mary Rockey, elementary principal, told board members that most of the supplies needed, such as equipment repair, textbooks and new equipment, remains about the same, however travel expenses will be greatly reduced.

“Because we can’t go anywhere and everything is ZOOM, I decreased travel by $2,000,” she said.

Can Tenamore, district technology coordinator, reported on the cuts that could be made in computer assisted instruction. He led board members through a line-by-line sketch of the district’s expenses in regard to BOCES instructional hardware.

Tenamore outlined ways that the district could save money, especially in the area of printers and domain services. The district could save up to $17,000, however, by hiring its own district technology person, he said.

Michael Cipolla, district superintendent, said hiring a district technology person is a possibility that he may soon be asking the board to consider.

“With having our own computer tech, we will be able to manage everything that BOCES does for us,” he said. “This could be a very viable option.”

Amy Webb, WACS CSE/CPSE coordinator, reviewed the caseload data for the past year as well as projections for the coming year. She noted that the district has a full-time psychologist as well as a part-time psychologist shared with Sherman Central School.

This allows the district to perform many of the services it would otherwise have to contract from BOCES.

In a related matter, Cipolla discussed programming, especially in terms of STEAM courses. He noted that the district had a resignation in the art department during the summer which it did not replace.

“It was the beginning of the pandemic,” Cipolla said. “The decision not to fill the position was a timely one. The students did not miss out on any mandates.”

However, the board should consider hiring someone to fill that position.

“Our district has had an emphasis on STEAM,” Cipolla said. “Perhaps we should look at how we can increase and modify our electives to add a little more STEAM.”

Cipolla also reviewed the results of a survey the district sent out in relation to the athletic complex. The survey received 358 responses, he said, out of which 81% said they had children in the district and 91% indicated they were a Westfield community member.

The survey asked respondents what they felt were the most important areas of the athletic complex and what they felt most needed improvement. The track received the highest number of votes with 233, followed by the soccer/football field with 190. The softball/baseball fields received 164 responses and storage/concessions received 134.

“This is a good beginning stage for us,” Cipolla said. “The next step will be to try to increase the amount of feedback and then take it to the planning stages.”

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