On Wednesday, the Fairport Board of Education adopted the 2012-13 school budget to bring several long months of planning one step closer to a public vote.
"This is a budget that, with much work, has met the demands of the times and met the needs of our students," said superintendent Dr. Jon Hunter.
With new data from the State Legislature, the proposed budget showed minor adjustments to state and federal aid, which still amounted to a 5.8 percent loss compared to last year.
Overall, Fairport will increase spending by slightly more than 1 percent. The district plans to use $5.7 million of its reserves and fund balance but will eliminate 24 teaching positions. The tentative number of non-teaching staff to be reduced will be determined by late April, Hunter said.
For some, like John Baynes, president of the Fairport Educators Association, this number provided in the adopted budget, although less than the number anticipated months ago, is still disappointing.
"Overall, what started to be a catastrophic plan has been slightly improved, and we appreciate the improvements, but this still falls short of what other districts are trying to do to preserve programs," said Baynes.
While some areas will be reduced, this will not be the case with high school electives in grades 10-12. All electives were maintained through a new rotation plan, in which 66 of approximately 80 electives will be offered while the remaining courses undergo a curriculum re-write before they are offered following year.
There will be minor reductions in athletics as just only two teams, the freshmen boys' basketball and an assistant coach position on the girls' and boys' nordic skiing team, will be cut from a total 112 modified and high school sports teams.
As Hunter reiterated, the board's goals during the budget planning process were to make common core academics and smaller class sizes some of its main priorities. One example of lementary music classes will be moved earlier in the school day to allow for longer instruction time.
Before they unanimously approved the budget, the board thanked members of the community for their constant participation and input as new changes, like the property tax cap, went into effect this year.
In keeping with its allowable levy limit, the district plans to raise the tax levy by 2.95 percent.
Board member Maureen Nupp said that good and bad feedback helped assist the board in determining its course of action early in the process, when news of the $4.2 million gap became publicly known.
"Our budget was reviewed quite publicly before it was our budget," said Nupp, adding that it's difficult to convey definite outcomes without data such as state budget data and tax assessment calculations. "A budget is a two-way puzzle, and we could not say anything until we have more of the pieces of the puzzle — it's a time issue."
Page 2 of 2 - While things may look different next year with the new spending plan, board member Marty Cardona said she's confident that some things won't change.
"It is so important that we preserve our culture and continue to be a family," said Cardona.
The board will hold a public hearing on the budget on Tuesday, May 1 before the vote on May 15.