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The Depew School District is gearing up to persuade residents to support a $12 million bond issue.

Homes in the school district should be receiving a district newsletter soon, detailing the proposal to renovate district buildings and bring new technology into district classrooms.

Depew school officials for two years have talked about putting a bond issue before taxpayers and recently set Dec. 10 as the referendum date.

Half of the $12 million bond would go toward new computers and wiring district buildings for the hardware, while the other $6 million would be used for renovations, such as upgrading classrooms, repairing leaky roofs and improving parking lots, said Superintendent Eugene Hale.

"This is a big thing for us," Hale said. "I think the bottom line when we get through all the rhetoric is improvement of instruction K through 12."

The bond proposal, if approved, would increase the 1997-98 tax rate 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation for Cheektowaga residents and 14 cents per $1,000 for Lancaster taxpayers.

The bond would have no impact on the tax rate beginning in the 1998-99 school year for a couple of reasons, according to school officials.

First of all, the state would reimburse the district for 80 percent of the project's cost, Hale said. Second, the district is scheduled to pay off all its current debt by the year 2000.

In fact, school officials project a tax rate decrease of 1 to 18 cents during the 15-year life of the bond.

The timing is right for the bond issue, and this option is more feasible than slowly chipping away at the district's budget to make these improvements, school officials said.

"That would take forever," Hale added. "This way we can get into the swing of it."

Depew will be following in the footsteps of many Western New York districts that have proposed bond issues over the past few years to improve classroom technology for students and teachers.

Taxpayers in Cheektowaga Central and Cleveland Hill school districts approved bond issues in 1994, while residents in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District approved a bond issue for new technology and building renovations in 1995.

In April, voters in the Lancaster Central School District approved a $33.2 million bond issue to build a new elementary school and provide district students with new computers.

Providing Depew students with access to new technology is essential for them to keep up with their peers in other districts, Hale said.

The bond issue vote will be from noon to 9 p.m. Dec. 10 in the Cayuga Heights Elementary School, 1780 Como Park Blvd.

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