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REFERENDUM NOV. 20 ON TWO DEFICITS

Killing two birds with one stone, the Lackawanna School Board will hold a public referendum Nov. 20 on an $800,000 shortfall in money available to build a new school and a $60,000 shortfall in the school lunch program.

The board Monday set Nov. 20 for a vote that would allow the district to seek new bids to determine a general contractor for Martin Road Elementary School.

Low bids for heating, electrical and plumbing work fell within expected ranges and are acceptable, Senior Accountant Sameh Masry said.

The bids of general contractors, however, exceeded the money the district has to create a new building for 900 students.

The board resolution on the referendum designates board President John Makeyenko, who recently declared personal bankruptcy, as chief fiscal officer to conduct the bond sale as he deems best for the interest of the school district, and in compliance with local finance law. He would also appoint the fiscal agents.

The board attorney, Carl Morgan, said the president is the district's chief fiscal officer and the provision is usual.

Makeyenko said he will consult with other board members.

Issuing an additional $800,000 bond for a period of 30 years would add 3.9 cents a year to the total taxes of the owner of a $56,000 home, Superintendent Paul Hashem said.

The original $13.1 million bond was approved by voters three years ago, with 91.6 percent of the money coming from the state.

The board voted Monday to try to obtain similar 91.6 percent reimbursement for the additional $800,000. At this point, 81.6 percent state subsidizing is guaranteed, administrators said.

The $60,000 cafeteria shortfall was attributed by Hashem to a disappointment on state aid and to personnel costs. The board is seeking authorization to shift funds to offset that shortfall.

The board's meeting Monday was its third in eight days on the referendum issue.

Residents who wish to vote in the referendum and have not previously registered for a school election can register weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. in Washington School, 30 Johnson St., clerk Daniel Radwanski said.

The board also designated Saturday, Nov. 10, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., for weekend registration at Washington School.

email: mhammersley@buffnews.com

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