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Residents in the Silver Creek Central School District will vote in May on whether to keep the number of School Board seats at nine or reduce it to seven.

Since the resignations in July of board members Daniel Gard and Marjorie Foxton, the board has been operating with seven members, pending the May vote.

Gard and Foxton resigned because of a dispute over the election of Timothy Roche as board vice president. Gard, who was board president at the time of his resignation, thought Foxton should have been elected because she had the most seniority.

Superintendent James Mills said the official transition from nine members to seven would take place over a three-year period, when three seats -- Foxton's, 3-year-term; Gard's, 4-year-term; and Roche's, 5-year-term -- would be up for election.

The board also heard a 2001-02 budget presentation calling for the purchase of four school buses and two vans for about $415,000. Also, Mills noted staffing requests that include a social studies teacher and an instrumental music teacher.

"The purchase of school buses is not an optional item unless you contract out," Mills said. Most districts that contract out for transportation services are located in a competitive market, unlike Silver Creek, Mills added.

The bus purchases will be offset by 90 percent state aid for the following year. That means Silver Creek would get back $360,000 to put toward new buses.

He said the school has been trying to buy at least two new buses per year, but has been falling behind that mark.

"I'm thinking that I will probably pull the buses right out and put them on a special referendum. It's probably what I'm going to recommend to the board," he added.

No hard figures were presented for the budget. Mills noted that the budget process begins in November for the following school year.

"We have a long way to go in terms of paring that budget down to where it will be and what we think will be an acceptable level for taxpayers," he said.

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