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Williamsville schools budget hikes taxes, includes new program items

The Williamsville Central School District's proposed budget for 2018-19 maintains current academic and extracurricular programming, and also makes some additions.

The budget has $475,000 worth of new "program support items," including an instructional coaching position, enhancements of academic intervention services, changes to enhance administrative makeup at the elementary and high school levels and increased professional development.

The School Board on Tuesday night voted to adopt the proposed $190.8 million budget. Spending is up $4.68 million, or 2.5 percent. The tax levy is up $2.7 million, or 2.24 percent, which is below the state tax cap, said Superintendent Scott Martzloff.

The tax rate is also estimated to increase 2.24 percent, after a steep drop last year due to Amherst's townwide reassessment. The owner of an Amherst home assessed at $150,000 with the Basic STAR exemption would see a tax increase of $43.42 under the proposed budget.

Officials also are proposing to use an additional $333,479 in state aid to enhance school safety and security efforts.

The district would use $50,000 to hire an outside company to perform a security audit. In addition, the district would hire a K-12 behavioral specialist for a full-time position at a cost of $100,000. That person could be a teacher on special assignment, a counselor, school psychologist, social worker or administrator, said Martzloff.

"The point is they have to have a very specific skill set to be able to assist our teachers, our students and our parents with certain challenges going on with student behavior across the district," he said.

And the district would use $183,000 on physical security upgrades such as exterior doors and windows.

The district eliminated a $1.55 million budget shortfall through salary savings from teacher retirements.

A budget hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 3, the same night as a forum for candidates for three seats on the School Board. The public vote on the budget will be from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. May 15 in the Williamsville North High School gym, 1595 Hopkins Road, Amherst.

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