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Pearl River Schools Examine Expenses

The latest budget presentation to the Pearl River board of education focused on expenses other than salaries, including equipment and transportation.

Pearl River Schools Examine Expenses Pearl River Schools Examine Expenses Pearl River Schools Examine Expenses

Pearl River School District Director of Operations Quinton Van Wynen continued a series of presentations in the 2013-14 budget process at Tuesday's board of education meeting.

Much of the talk previously centered on the cost of personnel, which takes up over 70 percent of the bodget. Tuesday night, Van Wynen focused on other expenses such as equipment, transportation and utilities.

With the district facing possible cuts in personnel, it puts more scrutiniy on every item. 

"I think it's remarkable that our total increase on other (non-personnel) expenses is about 1.8%," Van Wynen said. "Since 2007, we have had three years where we had negative increases in other expenses. This year we are at 1.8%, which is below average. We've cut back dramatically since 2007-08 as we tried every place we could to decrease expenses."

The district had been holding equipment spending down, dropping to $82,400 in the 2012-13 budget. Van Wynen said he is recommending three major purchases that alone will cost $85,000 for 2013-14, including a replacement van, a front loader and technology. The total proposal is $125,000.

"The van we are replacing ins a 2001 with significantly more than 100,00 miles," Van Wynen said. "At this point, to get it to pass inspection would cost between $7,000 and $10,000. We are better off with a replacement."

The front loader is part of an upgrade to the groundskeeping in the district, which Van Wynen said will save money that would have been spent on outside contracts for grounds work. 

Van Wynen said transportation costs should remain steady. That is an area where the district has made cuts in recent years. The district consolidated some bus routes in 2010-11, then more recently cut down the area which is eligible for bussing to the high school. 

"We're out of places to save on busing," Van Wynen said.

Among the areas the district will be cutting are library and textbook expenses.

"We're going to budget to coincide with the state aid amounts," Van Wynen said. "We will try to live with what the state is giving us."

There is also a decrease in contract spending by doing more work in house. The district has also been able to cut spending on utilities through working with a company that helps organizations improve energy efficiency. It is showing in reduced usage of electricity and gas by 30 percent compared to 2008-09. 

"We look at usage, and looking at that usage, we are doing very, very well," Van Wynen said.

Among areas where expenses will increase are professional and technical services, BOCES and supplies and materials. Van Wynen said that the recent issues of East Ramapo Schools falling behind on payments to BOCES has had no impact on Pearl River and he does not expect it to.

"With supplies and materials, we held expenses virtually constant for five years," Van Wynen said. "You can only hold things back so long and eventually, it catches up with you. We will move up the expense a bit to build up a little of what we let out the door the last couple of years."

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