Westport School looks at across the board cost saving measures

— As numbers are returned to area schools, The Westport Central School Board of Education must find ways to make up for reductions in state funding.

Westport Superintendent Dr. John Gallagher said he hopes to keep the school functioning at the same level of programs offered and keep the current staff.

The 2012-13 budget of $5,408,000 compared to projected 2013-14 expenditures of $5,436,021 leaves a gap of $28,021.

Revenues are expected to increase $15,506 from the 2012-13 total of $5,408,000 to $5,423,506 for 2013-14.

That includes a $122,174 increase to the tax levy (from $3,249,654 to $3,371,828), which represents the maximum amount the board can raise under the state tax levy cap formula.

Those numbers leave a deficit of $12,515, which Gallagher said the district must find a way to reduce.

Some of the cost increases are $31,869 more for Board of Cooperative Educational Services costs, $30,072 increase for health insurance, and $83,451 for the Teachers Retirement System.

Gallagher and the School Board plan to use $132,251 of fund balance to help with the budget. Gallagher said they were hopeful additional state funding would help with the gap. Currently, the district has seen a reduction of $86,000 due to the state’s Gap Elimination program.

To maintain the programs, Gallagher said there will have to be cuts across the board, but he hopes the board can find positive solutions.

“At this point our goal is to maintain staff exactly as it is and maintain activities as they are now,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher has proposed cutting his salary by $6,000 a year; swapping certain field trips like a trip to Canada with a trip to the 1812 Homestead; and cutting down on the number of scrimmages students athletes attend.

“That doesn’t mean there won’t be cuts in programs,” he said. “It’s not the trips or the scrimmages but the mileage to get there.”

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