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WITH AMOUNT OF STATE AID UP IN THE AIR, BOARD POSTPONES PLANS TO ADOPT BUDGET

With reports of $2.5 million in additional state aid, the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School Board met Tuesday night with plans to adopt a 2005-06 budget, preventing some layoffs and other budget cuts.

But by meeting's end, trustees -- admittedly confused -- learned that the extra aid could total much less -- $400,000 -- and postponed voting on the 2005-06 spending plan totaling $123.6 million.

The board rescheduled the budget vote for April 13, so administrators can determine precisely how much state aid the district will receive.

Administrators warned that the aid figure is subject to change, despite the fact that the budget has already been adopted by the State Legislature.

Some board members said they want to see a portion of the extra state funding used to lower the tax rate or restore items cut from the budget.

Trustee John E. Donnelly suggested using the money to erase some layoffs.

But state aid uncertainties postponed any board action on the budget.

"This is maddening," board President Daniel T. Cavarello said. "There are still questions on whether or not we can rely on the numbers."

Alan K. Getter, assistant school superintendent for business, said that after reviewing the State Legislature's budget line item for Ken-Ton, he is concerned that the district will receive less money than anticipated.

Getter pointed, in particular, to a $600,000 aid increase for the district's transportation program.

"We haven't accrued those kind of expenses to generate that kind of an increase," School Superintendent Steven A. Achramovitch said, referring to the $600,000.

Cavarello said the district tends to underestimate its state aid, so there is room to reduce the tax increase.

But the superintendent said officials err on the side of caution to ensure that the district has a fund balance.

Also impacting the final budget is that only 15 of an anticipated 25 teachers opted for retirement, Achramovitch said.

The current budget has a tax-rate increase of 3.7 percent, or an extra $40 on a house assessed at $50,000.

Cuts include 14 teacher's aide positions and some buildings and grounds staffers.

During the meeting, some residents armed with the news of the perceived $2.5 million in additional state aid spoke in favor of the board reconsidering program cuts and the tax increase.

e-mail: esapong@buffnews.com

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