B-P to get $525K in grants

BROADALBIN – The Broadalbin-Perth Central School District will receive more than $525,000 over three years from the state for finding permanent cost savings in the district, the governor announced Friday.

The district was awarded $525,831 for identifying $584,257 in eligible cost savings. The district accomplished this by reducing transportation expenses, including eliminating a bus route and associated administrative and maintenance costs; revising the district’s health insurance plan and adopting a lower cost health insurance plan for teachers and retirees; and an overall reduction in district energy use, according to a news release.

The Broadalbin-Perth district is among 12 districts awarded one-time grants over three years, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a news release. The grants among the 12 districts totaled $9 million for finding more than $9 million in permanent efficiency savings.

“We’re extremely appreciative of this recognition and the competitive grant money that comes with it,” Broadalbin-Perth Superintendent Stephen M. Tomlinson said in a news release. “We were doing what needed to be done, and we’re happy to be rewarded for taking those steps-the same steps that many other school districts in New York state have been taking.”

Broadalbin-Perth will use the majority of the funds to improve the district’s instructional technology, purchasing SmartBoards, iPads, computers and other classroom learning tools and providing professional development for teachers to maximize the use of the technology, a news release said.

Tomlinson said the management efficiency grant money, as well as money from the Virtual AP grant that Broadalbin-Perth won in the fall, cannot be used to pay for ongoing instructional and operational expenditures.

In the latest draft of the 2013-14 school budget presented to the Broadalbin-Perth Board of Education in February, Business Administrator Marco Zumbolo predicted a $900,000 gap between projected revenues and expenditures, which must be made up through budget cuts, increased taxes or drawing on the district’s “rainy day” fund, a news release said.

“I support the governor’s competitive grants program, not only because Broadalbin-Perth has benefited from it, but because I believe it’s good to reward school districts that are doing the right thing for their students and their taxpayers,” Tomlinson said in the news release. “That being said, I also encourage our elected officials to consider their constitutional obligation to provide all students in New York state with a sound, basic education. Right now, that’s not happening.”

Tomlinson said Friday the district did a variety of things to reduce its energy use. They ranged from working with staff to make sure computers and lights were shut off when appropriate, to lowering the temperature in the classrooms during winter.

The competitive education grants for management efficiency rewards school districts that have implemented innovative strategies to improve the overall efficiency of school district management, while maintaining or improving student achievement, the release said.

School districts across the state were invited to apply for a grant by demonstrating innovative cost-savings that were implemented in their districts. These schools found efficiencies and savings in their district operations, in areas such as transportation, maintenance staff, and administrative support, the release said.

As models, these districts will provide roadmaps to other districts for how to contain escalating costs that continue to grow every year, according to the release.

“Our education system must become more efficient and direct spending away from the bureaucracy into the classroom,” Cuomo said in the release. “The 12 districts we are awarding today stand out as leading examples and will serve as models for other districts across the state. I applaud their achievement.”