December 6, 2021

Spending down in Homer schools budget plan

The proposed $44.3 million budget for the Homer Central School District features less spending made possible in part by savings from energy efficiency work and retirements.

Michael Falls, the assistant superintendent for management, said the proposed budget is almost $27,000 less than the 2020-21 adopted budget, which came from an energy savings project approved last year that includes new energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling and new temperature control systems.

Additionally, teachers retiring and reduced spending for past work projects also helped lower the budget, he said.

“I feel it’s a very responsible budget to send out to the taxpayers this year,” Falls said.

During the pandemic, Falls said the biggest changes for the district financially were the costs associated with personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies.

That issue, though, was larger for the 2020-21 school budget than the proposed 2021-22 school budget because the district has a better understanding of the cost in providing the equipment, as well as other COVID-related cleaning and safety supplies and services.

Falls said COVID-related expenses will be coming out of money the district receives from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and not the district’s general fund.

The district has been working on ways it can cut expenses and reliance on reserves as it planned for the budget.

“This was the year we found we could do that,” Falls said.

Along with the budget, propositions will ask Homer voters if the district should spend up to $820,000 to lease seven school buses, one of which is accessible to people with disabilities.

Three candidates are seeking three seats on the school board:

  • Incumbent Charles Tummino.
  • Kenneth “KC” Slade.
  • Emily Olsenwik.

A public hearing will be 6:30 p.m. May 11 in the Homer Training and Education Center next to the high school, Falls said. The hearing will also be streamed on the district webpage, tinyurl.com/k2yfmym6.

Voting will take place in-person, unless an absentee ballot is applied for, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. May 18 at the center.