The Buffalo Board of Education is hoping to pass a budget and close an estimated $50 million budget deficit for the 2010-2011 school year without laying off any staff.
But hopes of a pain-free budget are slowly fading as Dr. James Williams, Buffalo's superintendent, outlined two possible spending plans, one of which calls for laying off 777 school district employees.
"We're spending more money than we're taking in," Williams said following his budget presentation to board members.
"We receive 80 percent of our funding from the state," he said "And that's a problem."
It's a problem because Governor David Paterson wants to reduced aide to local schools, leaving large urban districts like Buffalo with few options that include program cuts, larger class sizes and teacher layoffs.
Here is what Williams is recommending to the board:
- Ask teachers to contribute 20 percent towards health care costs, saving $12 million.
- Petition the state to change the charter school tuition formula, saving $15 million.
- Eliminate the cosmetic surgery rider, saving $7 million.
School officials admit it will be difficult to achieve just one of these options, so Williams has devised a second proposal. He calls it a plan for a "worst-case scenario."
The second option would layoff about 777 full and part-time employees.
- 185 teacher aides
- 200 teachers
- 300 non-mandated bus aides
- 26 white collar positions
- 5 central office administrators
Unlike suburban school districts, major city school systems like Buffalo cannot levy taxes.
Ralph Hernandez, School Board president, is planning to ask the Buffalo Common Council for additional aid this year, but with a looming $24 million deficit, members of Mayor Byron Brown's administration said a boost in aid is unlikely.
"Tonight we saw a best-case scenario and a worst-case scenario," said School Board member Catherine Nugent Panepinto.
"I think there's lots of in between there," she added.
A final spending plan must be in place by July 1.