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Rush-Henrietta school board to revise budget, hold second vote in June

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The Rush Henrietta school board will put a revised budget proposal to a public vote on June 18.

The board voted to amend a $171.6 million budget that was voted down last week by a slim margin. Proposed changes to the budget would reduce spending by $1.3 million.

Reductions would affect special education, food service, capital projects and administrative positions.

“I'm struggling with these revisions, because I think the ‘why’ of why the budget failed is very important,” said board member Kimberly DeLardge. “The issue was we didn't clearly communicate the things in the budget. And I think we have an opportunity to go back and do that in these next three weeks, or whatever it is. ... I wouldn't want to cut anything. The budget fell by 15 votes. So, to me, that's not this huge referendum against the board or the budget, I just think we need to do go back and do a better job of communicating.”

One administrative position that could be frozen is a recruiter. That proposal, in particular, received pushback from some school board members.

“I don't like any of these reductions, but I also need to check my personal feelings and say the community told us we needed to reduce the budget,” said school board President Scott Adair. “We need people in those teachers' desks, we need bus drivers behind the wheel of the buses, we need nurses in the buildings, we need instructional paraprofessionals across this district, we need school resource professionals across this district."

Superintendent Barbara Mullen said there were also some misunderstandings about the budget proposal that didn’t pass, which was 6.1% higher than last year’s approved plan. Mullen said that increase was related in part to additional items that were added during this past school year. Including raises for most staff.

“We had educators leaving for lateral raises, which we simply needed to maintain our employment and of course show our staff that we appreciated them,” Mullen said. “On average, our teachers received a raise of 2.5% last year. So that we wouldn't do ‘take-backsies,’ we wrote that into this year's budget as well.”

Mullen said she’d heard from some community members that the budget line for central administration was also confusing.

"I did not give myself an 82% raise,” Mullen said. “But we did want to make sure we clarified for community members that central administration line because it was clumped together.”

Mullen said those budget items will now be separated by position.

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.