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GROUP WANTS SCHOOL PLEDGE ON FUTURE OF PINE HILL

Leaders of one of Cheektowaga's largest and most active taxpayer groups said Wednesday that they will not support a new bond issue for building construction in the Cheektowaga Central School District unless the future of the Pine Hill Primary Center is ensured.

The organization, the Town Park Home Owners Association, last spring helped defeat two bond issues, one of which would have resulted in the closing of the school near the Buffalo city line.

"We want them to convince us that Pine Hill will remain open, but so far they haven't given us any word," said Stanley J. Kaznowski, president of the association.

"Pine Hill is absolutely part of the picture here. I don't know how to make it any clearer," replied Delia G. Bonenberger, assistant superintendent of the school district. Pine Hill houses the district's kindergarten and first grades.

"There is absolutely no scenario on the table that would change the utilization of Pine Hill as our K-1 building," she said.

In fact, new multimillion-dollar projects under consideration by the district include more parking and new cafeteria and hallway carpeting at Pine Hill.

But John M. Marriott, Town Park's vice president, called those improvements a "bone" tossed in to make the package more appealing to Pine Hill residents.

"The (added) parking benefits the teachers and the parents, not the kids, and it makes the building more marketable if they decide to sell -- who are they trying to kid?" Marriott said. "Town Park will insist that any bond issue guarantee the future of Pine Hill."

School officials said that this may not be possible over the long haul. "Ten, 15 or 20 years from now, if the district is half the size it is, or twice the size, who knows?" Bonenberger said.

In April, voters resoundingly defeated a $28.7 million bond issue that would have closed Pine Hill in favor of a new K-2 school on the district's Union Road campus. Also voted down was a $22.7 million project that eliminated construction of a new primary school, thus keeping Pine Hill open.

Town Park leaders fought against both bond issues -- one because it would have shut down Pine Hill and the other because they said Pine Hill alone was excluded from the building improvements the bond issue would have financed.

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