By Elizabeth Riggs

The 2017-2018 school budget and a scarcely attended Winter Weekend dance were the main topics of conversation at the Ellicottville Central School District Board of Education meeting last Tuesday.

In an effort to educate tax payers on hurdles with next school year’s unfinished budget, Superintendent Mark Ward will be publishing a series of articles in upcoming school newsletters.

“We try to educate our tax payers and our community on how it all works,” said Ward. “You will see a series of articles that hopefully explain where we are going with the budget once we know where our numbers are.”

Ward indicated that school aid will not be overly generous and that a large portion of the budget is allocated for staff raises and health insurance. In addition, Ward said estimates show an increase in a need for transportation funding.

“The killer for Ellicottville is the fact that they don’t give us the aid and we have a tax cap that is suffocating our ability to raise revenue,” Ward said. “Hopefully, we are going to help our community understand that better and how it’s playing out for us.”

The Board will be meeting again on Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. for a budget work session to go over figures.

Winter Weekend, which included a pep rally on Friday, Feb. 3 and a formal dance on Saturday, Feb. 4, was scarcely attended by students, according to multiple members of the Board. As a result, Board members discussed scheduling the event for a different weekend next year and in conjunction with a home basketball game.

“It’s like having a party and no one comes. You’d like to figure out why they didn’t come,” Ward said, and encouraged Board members to talk to students about feelings on the event.

In other business, the Board approved an eighth grade class trip to Washington, D.C. Students will visit the nation’s capital from Monday, June 19 to Wednesday, June 21.

“It’s a wonderful thing to take kids like this to a city, and the capital of the country,” said Ward. “It is kind of an end of the year reward. It’s just a great experience.”

Ward also highlighted students’ preparation for the school musical, Anything Goes. Performances are scheduled for Thursday, March 30 and Friday, March 31 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, April 1 at 2 p.m.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the Board also approved the following Spring Sports coaches for the 2016-2017 school year: Chris Mendell, Varsity Baseball; Jason Marsh, Modified Baseball; Matt Finn, Varsity Softball; Dave McCann, JV Softball; Leah Klahn, Modified Softball; Dan LaCroix, Golf; Patricia Waldron, Track. In addition, Robert Sawicki and Steve Grabowski were approved as volunteer baseball coaches.

Joe Schultz was appointed to the permanent position of Technical Support Specialist. In addition, Kim Bliss was approved as a substitute cleaner.

The board also unanimously voted to enter into agreement with Ward on his final contract at ECS before adjourning into executive session to discuss two separate personnel matters.

Due to the school closing for winter break from Feb. 20-24, the next ECS school board meeting will not be held until Tuesday, March 7 at 7 p.m. in the high school library.