ALLEGANY — A presentation of preliminary budgets for the 2019-20 school year was provided to the Allegany-Limestone Central School District board during Tuesday’s meeting.

Department heads presenting the budgets were Rhonda Herbert, cafeteria; building and grounds, Allen Backer; special education, Alicia Bockmier; and transportation, Shawn Phinney.

In her presentation on the cafeteria, Herbert said new for food services next year will be the Farm-to-School program that will enlist the aid of Canticle Farm, a community farm located in Allegany that grows certified naturally grown produce.

“As part of the Farm-to-School program we will invest in two shares (each) in the fall and spring” for the upcoming school year, Herbert explained. She noted Cassandra Bull is the Farm-to-School coordinator and will work with the cafeteria staff. Herbert said the fresh produce will be used in veggie bars set out for students as well as in various recipes used in the cafeteria.

“I think this (program) will be a great asset and will encourage kids to eat more vegetables,” Herbert said. School board president Joe Zimmer added, “I think it’s great … and I give it two thumbs up.”

IN THE SPECIAL education presentation, Bockmier said the total number of classified students in the program is 153. Of this amount, 18 of the students are in the preschool program; 24 in BOCES out-of-the area programs; two each in home instruction, other public schools, non-public schools and a special school.

She said the district offers a variety of services including smaller student-to-staff ratio and co-teaching programs, among others. Emerging trends will include a focus on assistive technology to help students succeed, career development for students with disabilities and social work services to help involve families with community agencies and support services.

Bockmier said this year’s budget is $2.9 million and the proposed budget for next year is $3.2 million, a 8.54 percent increase.

IN THE BUILDING and grounds presentation, Backer said over the past two years the department has upgraded and replaced snow removal equipment, and wants to upgrade the compact tractor and tow-behind tri-deck mower for next year. In addition, the department will add a new cleaning position.

This year’s budget is $1.3 million, and next year’s proposed budget is $1.4 million, a 2.60 percent increase.

IN HIS TRANSPORTATION presentation, Phinney said his department expects to lose up to five qualified drivers due to expected retirement, and those who don’t plan to return.

He said the department will review how this might impact routing and meeting the transportation needs of the students. Phinney said three of the buses currently have a radio router that connects to the district’s computer system, thereby serving as a extension of the classroom. The district expects to expand the system to eight or nine buses, he said. In addition, the lighting system in the bus garage will be upgraded to enhance safety.

The department’s budget this year is $1.49 million and the proposed budget is $1.45 million, a decrease of 2.81 percent.

IN HIS REPORT to the board, Superintendent Tony Giannicchi recommended the board approve six alternatives to the Capital Improvements Project in the district.

The alternatives to the $17 million project will include replacing the existing middle/high school gym divider curtain; refinishing the existing middle/high school gym floor; replacing existing middle/high school doors; replacing HVAC equipment in middle/high fitness room center; building management upgrades; and installing collapsible/removable outfield fences for the new softball and baseball fields.

Other work planned for the project will include a multi-purpose athletic field and associated facilities such as an additional concession stand and multi-purpose special education space, locker room renovations, track renovations, a fully lighted field, sidewalk repairs, drainage upgrades and partial parking lot resurfacing. A number of upgrades will also take place at the elementary campus.

Giannicchi said the district will next make plans with contractors for the time frame of the projects. He said work crews are expected to begin the first of the projects in the spring.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)

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