No tax increase in WACS budget plan

Westfield Academy and Central School Board of Education members tabled the vote on the 2024-25 budget, instead of approving it at their meeting on April 8.

The proposed budget contains no increase in the property tax levy, even though the state tax cap would have allowed for more than a 4% increase. Board member Tom Tarpley said he was pleased that the board is attempting to pass a budget with no tax increase. “I was appreciative of our proposed budget that will not increase the tax levy,” he said. “I hope this will provide some relief to our residents and business owners.”

Tarpley explained the reason for the board’s decision to table the vote on the proposed 2024-25 budget. “We wanted to see the approved state budget first to ensure there are no surprises,” he said.

Board members had their final budget study session with Business Manager Josh Melquist, at which time they discussed a proposed budget of $18,592,079, which is an increase of $470,490 or 2.6% over the current budget.

Melquist noted the maximum allowable tax levy increase for the district is $272,311 or 4.35%. The board discussed the merits of a levy increase versus no increase at all for the 2024-25 school year.

In the past few months, Westfield has made several reductions in expenditures, including the elimination of an additional special education teacher position, and the decision to refrain from paving the bus garage parking lot.

In a related matter, board members approved the appointment of Tina Winslow as Chairperson for the May 21 annual meeting and Board of Education election, as well as four election inspectors.

In other business, Secondary Principal Corey Markham updated board members on the schedule for state assessments. ELA tests will be administered April 16 through 23, he said. Math assessments are scheduled for April 30 through May 7 and Science tests are scheduled for May 15 for students in grades 5 and 8, he added.

Markham also told the board that 10th, 11th and 12th grade students received training in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. District Claims Auditor, Nancy Jopek, taught CPR to pupils in grades 10 through 12 in March.

In her report to the board, Elementary Principal Molly Anderson said the 400 paw print Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) celebration was a glow party this year. “Grade levels had time in the gym to choose from various stations and activities that were glowing under the blacklights,” she said. “It was a high-energy, fun day for all. Thank you PBIS Committee!”

Anderson told board members that state assessments will be given through May 15 in the elementary school. “State assessments begin this month, starting with ELA,” she said. “All assessments will be computer based through the Nextera Questar Platform.”

Also regarding assessments, Superintendent Michael Cipolla praised the faculty and staff at WACS for their dedication to increasing the mastery and proficiency rates of the students. “This has been a longstanding goal of our District. We have implemented processes to evaluate student performance data that ultimately guides our instructional practices,” he said.

Cipolla also noted that Westfield has experienced a 10% increase in its graduation rate. “We are appreciative of our faculty and staff’s efforts to move our District forward,” he said. “It is challenging work and our staff continues to rise to the occasion.”

Director of Instruction and Special Education Lauren Harper gave the board an update on the professional development in which staff members participated on April 8. Topics included workplace violence, students experiencing homelessness and self-harm awareness and prevention, she said.

In other business, board members approved several sports mergers for the 2024-25 school year. The approvals include cross country at Fredonia, boys’ wrestling at Chautauqua Lake, girls’ wrestling at Chautauqua Lake and indoor track at Fredonia.


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