Albion has made big cuts in staff as enrollment shrinks over past decade

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 May 2016 at 12:00 am

ALBION – The school district has eliminated 87 positions in the past 13 years, at a time when the student enrollment has shrunk 29 percent or by nearly 750 students.

The district had 2,574 students in 2003-04, but next year’s enrollment is projected to fall to 1,834, a 38-student drop from the current school year. The total number of full-time equivalent positions has fallen in 13 years from 349 to a proposed 262 in the 2016-17 budget, a 25 percent reduction. The district doesn’t plan to cut any teaching positions but will eliminate a full-time clerical job as part of the proposed 2016-17 budget.

As enrollment has steadily dropped, the district has pared back staff. That has allowed the district to either cut or hold the line on taxes in nine of the last 10 years, school leaders said Tuesday during a budget hearing.

The proposed $33,890,990 school budget keeps taxes at the same amount, $8,355,939, as the 2015-16 budget.

The district’s rate of reducing staff, 25 percent, doesn’t quite match the reduction in student enrollment, at 29 percent in the past 13 years. Shawn Liddle, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, said teachers and staff have more “extra things” from the State Education Department.

Liddle noted Albion has the lowest per pupil cost at $18,479 of any district in Orleans, where the average is $22,918. The state per pupil cost for 2016-17 is $25,962. Albion is one of 57 districts spending less than $19,000 in the state, out of 669 districts, Liddle said.

The district’s tax rate for the current school year, $16.06 per $1,000 of assessed property, is the lowest of all districts in Orleans, Genesee, Niagara and Monroe counties. The Albion rate is estimated to fall to $15.87 in 2016-17, Liddle said.

District residents will vote on the budget Tuesday from noon to 8 p.m. at the elementary school, conference room A.

Other propositions on the May ballot will include:

Authorization to spend up to $460,000 for buses;

Approval to collect $687,211 for Hoag Library. That is up 1 percent from the $680,411 for 2015-16.

Choosing one of four candidates for a five-year term on the Board of Education. The candidates include Dylan Hellems, Steven LaLonde, Kevin Doherty and Anitrice Riley.