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Unexpected state aid brightens tax picture

An unexpected boost in state revenue is helping the Tonawanda City School District lower a possible tax increase, according to a budget advisory session at Tonawanda High School on Tuesday night.

Previously, the district was expecting a $100,000 increase in state aid, forcing administrators to find other ways to plug a $2 million budget gap.

However, new information from the state raises the increase to about $265,000. The additional revenue means that the district could lower a potential tax levy increase of 3.2 percent to 1.928 percent, below the state's property tax cap.

The district also restored some positions that were set to be eliminated in the next school year, including one full-time elementary staff position and part-time positions in music, foreign language and art. Tonawanda's current budget proposal calls for eliminating the equivalent of 17 full-time positions.

The fate of the district's junior varsity sports program, which would be eliminated in favor of expanding Tonawanda's varsity and modified programs, is still up in the air as officials are talking with other districts about their athletic programs for next year.

Superintendent Whitney K. Vantine said the district is looking at about $37,000 in cuts to the athletic budget if Tonawanda decides to keep the junior varsity program.

The School Board is scheduled to meet again April 17, when members are expected to vote on adopting the proposed $28.3 million budget.