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NIAGARA-WHEATFIELD ORDERS CUT IN BUDGET SCHOOL BOARD DIRECTS SUPERINTENDENT TO REDUCE PLAN BY $1.43 MILLION

The Niagara-Wheatfield School Board directed the school superintendent Wednesday to cut about $1.43 million from the proposed 1995-96 budget, but property owners will be in for a tax increase anyway.

If no cuts were made, the proposed budget of $35,262,877 plus funding for non-mandated items, would result in a property tax increase of 9.6 percent, an amount most board members conceded would be rejected by voters in the June 6 referendum.

Member Mary Ann Casamento asked Superintendent Carol Beebe to make the necessary cuts because, she said, the tax hike should not go higher than this year's salary increases in Niagara County. Otherwise, "it would never pass," Mrs. Casamento warned.

Mrs. Beebe said she would attend the next budget meeting April 3 with the proposed cuts or with justification for why spending could not be trimmed.

However, Mrs. Beebe warned the board that a tax hike was imminent.

During a discussion on changing the period schedule at Edward Town Middle School, the superintendent cautioned that anyone who thought the district could continue "status quo with no tax increase" had "his head stuck in the sand."

She explained that the problems included no forecast yet on financial aid from Albany, two unsettled employee contracts, and the ever-rising costs of running the school district.

Her only priorities are to protect "quality programs for all kids" and to help student achievement go up, she said.

The proposed $35.2 million budget is approximately 2.8 percent higher than the expected expenditures for 1994-95.

Added expenses would include an additional $600,000 for the capital reserve fund, $150,000 for bus equipment, and $130,270 for sports and co-curricular activities.

Of the additional items, only sports and co-curricular activities are not required by the state and would be cut if the budget is voted down and the district were to go on a contingency package, according to Kerin Dumphrey, director of finance.

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