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Taxpayers in the Maryvale School System may be in for a pleasant surprise -- a tax decrease.

"I am projecting next year we'll see a reduction in our tax levy and a reduction in our tax rate," Superintendent Gary L. Brader told the School Board Monday night.

"That's good to hear," said School Board President Grace E. Bodkin.

Brader, however, didn't have final budget numbers for the School Board Monday night. School officials, in fact, still are working on a preliminary 1998-99 budget. Brader could bring the entire fiscal package before the board at its next meeting on April 21.

Meanwhile, Brader has been reviewing sections of the budget with the board the past few meetings.

He presented figures at the last meeting showing the district will likely spend $3,954,130 in the 1998-99 capital portion of the budget, or $112,219 less than this year.

The board Monday night looked at the proposed $19,928,861 instruction portion of the budget, which is up $94,833 from this year.

Salaries are $10,272,502, which is about $57,500 less than this year, Brader said.

The $10.2 million for salaries, however, includes the addition of four new positions -- a first and a third grade teacher, as well as two reading specialists to work with pupils in kindergarten through eighth grade, Brader said.

The preliminary instruction budget Brader unveiled also showed $107,240 for textbooks, up $10,063 from this year; $294,392 for libraries, up $14,739; $239,562 for athletics, up $7,257; and $988,974 for transportation, up $23,245.

In other business, the School Board:

Heard about the middle school's new Character First program, which recognizes students and focuses on boosting their morale, improving their behavior and attendence and bettering their grades.

Approved the retirements of Alice Joan Landel, an elementary eduction teacher and Basil Piazza, an English teacher. Ms. Landel's retirement is effective in May, while Piazza's in June.

Approved the high school chorale's April 19-21 trip to Williamsburg, Va., for an annual spring concert tour.

Reminded residents spring recess is from April 6 to April 17.

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