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PARED-DOWN BUDGET PLAN APPROVED

The Iroquois School Board on Wednesday adopted a pared-down budget for 2005-06 of $33.64 million, more than $1 million less than the spending plan proposed April 3 by Superintendent Neil Rochelle.

The budget represents an increase in spending of 4.41 percent and features a tax rate increase of 7.98 percent for Elma, the district's largest town.

Elma will have a tax rate of $257.83 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, an increase of $19.05.

Cuts made last week include $55,000 in maintenance and operations, $31,000 in transportation, $70,000 in the Board of Cooperative Education Services, and $16,762 in sports equipment and intramural activities.

The budget included cutting one high school English position and an art post, but added one special-education teacher.

The board also used $1.5 million from the fund balance and $453,000 from capital reserve funds to ease the tax impact.

The budget maintains course offerings but increases the class size to a maximum of 27 children per class.

Students who in the past have changed classes after a few weeks might find themselves out of luck, said Rochelle, since there will be a waiting list for classes in certain subjects.

The budget also preserves the 5 p.m. bus run, though on a smaller scale. Plans to eliminate the bus run had come under parental fire.

Five buses instead of eight will be used, meaning the run will be longer, with students returning later. Six to 20 students use the bus run.

Tax rates for the district's other towns follow: Marilla, $27.13 per $1,000, an increase of $2.01; Wales, $28.11, a hike of $1.60; Aurora $3.24, up $3.02; Lancaster, $15.46, reflecting a decrease of $3.82; and Bennington, $28.15, up $2.69.

A public hearing on the budget will be held May 9 and a vote on May 17.

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