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Residents interested in learning more about next year's Clarence school budget, the expansion and renovation at the elementary schools and the redesign of attendance areas will have that opportunity in a series of meetings planned over the next few months.

The district's combined parent-teacher organizations will play host to the sessions, which will include a presentation by Superintendent Thomas G. Coseo, as well as a question-and-answer session.

Meetings are scheduled for:

Feb. 27 -- 7 p.m. in Clarence Center Elementary School.

March 6 -- 7 p.m. in Ledgeview Elementary School.

March 13 -- 7:45 p.m. in Sheridan Hill Elementary School.

April 24 -- 7:30 p.m. in Harris Hill Elementary School.

May 1 -- 7:30 p.m. in Clarence Middle School.

Coseo's chosen topics involve major issues facing the school district.

Administrators are currently studying 2001-02 spending requests, the state is reviewing elementary construction plans, and an independent consultant is working on the change in attendance areas.

Although School Board budget approval is still two months away, Coseo has said that trustees will have a draft budget in hand by their meeting next Monday, a day before the public presentation at Clarence Center.

Coseo said his presentations will also outline the sequence of events surrounding the $18.5 million capital project approved by voters last May.

The project involves classroom additions at Harris Hill and Sheridan Hill, the district's smallest elementary schools; library, cafeteria and physical education expansions at both schools; library expansion at Ledgeview; various system upgrades at all elementary schools; and other improvements.

The state Department of Education is reviewing the project plans, and district administrators hope to begin construction this spring, with completion by September 2002.

However, recent events at the state level have made the timetable unclear. A proposal by Gov. George E. Pataki would limit and set priorities for state funding for building construction projects. The proposal may lack the necessary legislative support, but there is concern that a decision favorable to the schools could come too late for districts to start projects this year.

Coseo is expected to discuss the ramifications of Pataki's proposal during his presentations. The new additions will mean redrawing attendance areas to achieve an even distribution of the elementary population. The change will have the greatest impact on the Clarence Center and Ledgeview attendance areas, which have the largest number of pupils.

Coseo said Peter Rogerson, a University at Buffalo geography professor, is working on the reconfiguration, and trustees will be reviewing his recommendations over the summer. He said he wants a decision from the board in September to give people a year to prepare for the change.

Residents who cannot attend Coseo's presentations will have other opportunities to comment on the budget. A School Board budget input session is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. March 12 in Ledgeview; budget adoption at 7 p.m. April 23 in the high school; and a budget hearing at 7 p.m. May 7 in the high school.

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