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DISTRICT HAS THIRD LOWEST TAX RATE IN COUNTY

The school district's full-value tax rate is the third lowest in Chautauqua County, Superintendent James Mills told the Board of Education at Wednesday night's meeting.

The rate is $15.45 per $1,000 of full value. The lowest in the county is Chautauqua Lake at $11.87 and the highest is Ripley at $25.33.

Chautauqua Lake receives special state funding since it is a merged school district, and the value of the property is high. Both factors result in a low full-value tax rate, he explained.

Mills also discussed a study done by the Educational Administration Department of the University at Buffalo. Data were taken from 180 school districts and evaluated to measure achievements versus spending. Silver Creek was in the highest category for low spending and high achievement, Mills said.

The one area where the district fell below the highest rating was in technology.

Mills also reported on enrollment. The district has 1,392 students, down 104 from last year. The current kindergarten class has only 72 pupils, compared with 100 last year, he said.

He said students transfering in and out make projections of future numbers difficult.

In her annual report to the board, Melanie Monacelli, director of special education, said the district has 209 students receiving services, about 14.4 percent of the total number of students.

Trustee Kim Ramsdell was concerned that the district might reach the 15 percent ceiling, which would prompt the state to look at the program. Monacelli said the state might come in to look at the program.

She said the district cannot control transfer students, who if they have been identified as needing special education services in the previous district must receive the same services in Silver Creek.

The state aid formula for special education is changing to give more aid for placement in the "least restrictive" circumstances, such as a consultant teacher instead of a special class.

Mills said some legislators were concerned that school districts may have identified too many special education students to get more money. The proposed legislation has been rejected twice, he added.

In other statistics, Mills reported the district has 18 home-schooled children, double the number of last year. Mills is responsible for evaluating the curriculum they study and assessing their progress.

The construction project is on schedule, Mills reported. The district is waiting for some electrical materials to wire classrooms for computers.

The board named a professional development team for the assessment of teachers in the new learning standards changes required by the state.

"We're highly regulated," said Mills. "People are stretched when there are additional requirements and no additional people."

Nancy Baker, a parent, asked about contract negotiations. Mills replied that the district is negotiating with the Silver Creek Teachers Association, whose contract expired on June 30. In answer to another question, Mills said he has three remaining years on his contract.

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