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Hamburg Central High School is in line to get a $40,000 to $45,000 academic learning center opening this September that would try to help students of all abilities improve their skills and be better prepared for the state's new and tougher standards.

The School Board Tuesday night informally embraced the proposal presented by high school administrators and staff who serve on a subcommittee that proposed the center. The board decided to post a job for a director of the center, hoping to fill it by moving a current teacher to center and probably replacing that teacher with a new hire at a lower salary.

The center is included in the district's proposed $38.81 million budget for the 1998-99 school year. The budget is 1.8 percent, or $699,327, more than the 1997-98 budget. The spending increase is the lowest percentage increase in the last 15 years. The district will post the center director position internally before the board adopts a budget at its April 21 meeting.

Filling the job is contingent upon voters approving the budget on May 19.

Superintendent Peter G. Roswell said he is looking for a green light from the board on the project. The board seemed supportive and agreed that the job be posted but did not take any formal action on the learning center.

"It's in line with our comprehensive plan to continue Hamburg schools as schools of distinction. It's a big step," Roswell said.

A high school core team recognized the need for such a center a year ago, said Mary Jane Russell, assistant high school principal. Hamburg school officials visited eight other schools with learning centers, including Clarence schools, to help craft one specific to Hamburg. An estimated 70 percent of high school staff responded favorably to the idea, indicating they want to help, school officials said.

"It's still a working document," Mrs. Russell said. "Nothing is carved in stone. But we're still very excited about having a learning center up and running in September."

The center would be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and probably would start out in the former television studio across from the main office. Eventually, the center would ideally be located near the library media center, Roswell said.

"The success of the learning center will be tied to the involvement of the entire (school) staff," Principal Lawrence S. Hood said.

The district will release budget revenue and tax rate projections when it meets at 7 p.m. April 21 in the Armor Administration Building. The board also plans to adopt a budget that night, before holding a public hearing on it May 6 in the Armor Elementary School. Statewide school budget voting will be held May 19.

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