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NORTH TONAWANDA TRIMS BACK SCHOOL BUDGET SPENDING PLAN PARED BY $767,000; BOARD PRESIDENT WANTS MORE CUTS

The North Tonawanda School Board, in a third round of cuts, shaved $767,000 from its tentative 1990-91 budget Wednesday night, paring it to $37.1 million.

"Those were the easy cuts," said Board President Chester R. Klimek. "Now sharpen your pencils." He wants a budget of something less than $37 million ready for adoption by the board by the June 29 deadline.

As a result of Wednesday's surgery, teachers and staff will be working with as much as 50 percent less equipment and supplies next year than this, said Schools Superintendent John H. George. Board member Stephen Lampkin voted against the equipment reduction, which he characterized as a "step backward that could take years to make up."

There will be staffing reductions, although no actual job cuts, at both the elementary and high school levels. Projected secondary school professional staff will be reduced by 3.5 positions -- 2.5 teacher positions at the high school and one at the middle school.

Plans for a new high school librarian are eliminated, as is creation of another school psychologist position. After-school latchkey aide time is reduced, and sports programs will not be expanded as planned.

The position of assistant superintendent for instruction will remain vacant at least until January, pending a possible central office reorganization proposal by Dr. George.

The jobs of assistant for business affairs and a clerk will remain unfilled. A groundskeeper job is abolished.

Board members hope to find other, non- staff areas in which to cut another $100,000 or more from the tentative budget of $37.1 million by the budget adoption meeting of June 29.

Joseph T. Meaney, assistant superintendent for administration, said each $680,000 in the budget represents about one dollar on the tax rate -- 89 cents on the homestead rate and 11 cents on the non-homestead rate for industrial-commercial properties.

Before Wednesday night's cuts the estimated homestead tax rate was $20.87 per $1,000 of assessed value, and the non-homestead rate was $40.37.

The board heard several members of the audience plead for keeping funding for the gifted/talented student program in the budget.

The board, with the exception of Robert Seger who was opposed, voted to support a resolution before the Niagara County Legislature to distribute 25 percent of any county sales tax revenue over this year's estimated $54.9 million, among the county's school districts beginning next year, to ease the property tax burden.

Legislator John Tylec, D-North Tonawanda, who also is personnel director and clerk for the North Tonawanda school district, is co-sponsor of the legislation with Legislator William Ross.

Tylec said the legislation is intended as an alternative to a proposal to raise Niagara County's sales tax from seven to eight percent for the benefit of education, which Tylec says has no support in the County Legislature. He said his bill would redistribute but not increase the sales tax.

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