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WITH THREE ABSENT, BOARD OKS BUDGET

While students in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District need a grade of 65 percent to pass, it took only 57 percent of the Board of Education to adopt a budget.

With three of its seven members absent Tuesday -- Gary Sieczkarek, Daniel Lach and Ceil Grzybek -- the board approved a plan calling for spending more than $23.9 million in 2005-06.

The proposed budget, on which residents will vote May 17, includes an increase of 4.98 percent -- or slightly more than $1.1 million -- over the current spending plan.

"Essentially, everything is status quo," School Superintendent James P. Mazgajewski said of staffing and program retention reflected in the proposed budget.

According to board President Edward Bednarczak, an increase in state aid to the district of about $400,000 helped the budget from two sides.

"It will help keep the tax rate down, or -- to look at it differently -- it helped to keep all of our programs in place," he said.

Residents can ask questions at a public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. May 10 in Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.

The board approved a consolidation Tuesday, reducing the number of polling places for the budget vote from three to one. Voters will cast their ballots in John F. Kennedy High School between noon and 9 p.m.

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