School to Save $101,000 by Refinancing

By Jann Wiswall

The Ellicottville Central School District’s Board of Directors approved the generally positive external audit report prepared by R. A. Mercer & Co. at its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 7.

Auditor Denise Veloski stated the district is in better financial shape overall than it was last year and that the audit was “clean” with no major problems. Only a few minor issues were identified in the firm’s management letter.

Board member Connie Hellwig, who chairs the board’s Audit Committee and had already reviewed the report, said the auditors were impressed with the progress and improvements the district’s business office, led by District Treasurer Aimee Kilby, has made.

“To identify no significant findings is a major success,” she said.

Superintendent’s Report

Superintendent Mark Ward reported that the Sept. 29 staff development day was a great success. Teachers and administrators had the opportunity to be trained in CPR and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) use and use of the school’s new copiers. Training was available on the “My Big Campus” learning management system and the “i-Ready” program that was built for the Common Core and is designed to help students and teachers track their progress in reading and mathematics and other software.

Ward also reported that the board’s decision to take the state up on its offer to allow ECS to refinance its loan for past renovations of the middle and high school will actually save the district more than $100,000 over the next six years instead of the previously estimated $60,000-$90,000.

Ward also reported that costs for transporting the volleyball and football teams for off-site games is less than expected. So far, costs are only $2,300 more than last year at this time of year, but that there are also savings associated with hosting fewer home games. Basketball practice, incidentally, will be held at Allegany-Limestone and Cattaraugus-Little Valley; home court will be West Valley.

Health and Safety

Hellwig, representing the board’s Health and Safety Committee, attended a community-wide, emergency preparedness meeting during which fire, rescue and police authorities, teachers, administrators, and others were given an evacuation scenario. Their task was to determine a response.

“It was a phenomenal learning experience,” Hellwig said. “Everyone had something important to contribute.”

A critical goal of the meeting was to explain the proper “universal terminology” being used by schools, colleges, universities and other institutions across the country in case of emergency. The terms indicate different levels of emergency and the actions expected to be taken when an emergency is declared. In order of severity, the terms are “shelter in place,” “lockout,” and “lockdown.”

Ward said that all children, teachers and staff will be educated to understand this terminology and the actions expected to be taken. A quick-reference guide will be placed in all rooms and spaces throughout the school.

Building, Grounds & Transportation

Committee Chair Roger Spell reported that the Building, Grounds & Transportation Committee had reviewed the capital project’s finances to date and that “everything looks fine.”

He also recommended that the board approve the school’s purchase of a new pickup truck with plow. After researching the costs of obtaining a used truck compared to the costs of a new vehicle at state bid pricing, the difference is negligible.

“Why buy someone else’s problems when we can buy a new truck that’s under warranty,” said Spell.

Purchase of a used vehicle was authorized by the board in July.

Ward suggested that, since the vehicle will also be used to transport football equipment, skis and materials, the board consider pricing a cab as well in order to keep the contents dry.

The board agreed and authorized the purchase. A plow also will be ordered.

The Oct. 21 meeting of the board has been cancelled. The next regular meeting of the school board will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school library.