By Kathleen Kellogg

Ellicottville Central School’s Board of Education continued to tinker with an updated draft of a 2018-2019 spending plan during a Tuesday night work session in the High School Library.

Officials did not release specific details about the budget proposal, which will be discussed at future work sessions and unveiled in time for a public hearing at 7 p.m. May 8 in the High School Cafeteria. Residents of the School District will vote on the plan May 15.

School superintendent Bob Miller told the Board members that it will be a “tight” budget in the coming year due to increases in health care costs, insurance, wage increases and the minimum wage hike in New York State.

“We’ll fully utilize the two percent tax cap to get through this,” Miller said, noting there will be unanticipated costs, such as new kids moving into the district who will expect programs and services.

Last May, district residents voted approval for the $12,319,921 budget for the 2017-2018 school year.

Business Manager Aimee Kilby provided Board members with some updates, spreadsheets and documents to consider while working on the draft budget.

Miller pointed out some line items where savings could be realized. He said among these are a cutback on the summer school program and an evening school bus will be in service two days instead of three.

Also, the lease rotation for the District’s seven school buses will contain an extension for two of the small buses, and in June, two of the larger buses will be traded in. Voters will be asked to approve a proposition on May 15 for two new 66-passenger buses. Next year, Miller said, the proposition will be worded to provide one new 66-passenger bus and two smaller buses.

During the discussion, Board members commented about projections for increased costs for substitute teachers, and a return to full assessment for the Wingate Hotel that had been subject to the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency’s tax abatement incentives in the form of payments-in-lieu-of-taxes over the past decade.

Following the budget discussion, the Board closed the session to deal with negotiations and a personnel matter.

According to the school calendar on the District website, the Board will host a public hearing  at 6:30 p.m. March 27 on the topic of a repair reserve. The regular meeting of the Board will follow in the library at 7 p.m.