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ONE BOARD HOLDS LINE; ANOTHER OKS TAX HIKE

Despite complaints about the elimination of about 25 positions in the district, the Lewiston-Porter School Board remained steadfast Tuesday about not increasing spending in 2005-06.

Instead, officials said, the district would use most of an estimated $800,000 increase in state aid to cut the tax levy and reduce the property tax rate.

Board Vice President David S. Schaubert said the 2005-06 budget would remain at $35 million, the same as the current spending plan.

Schaubert said the projected property tax rate is $21.22 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, a reduction of $1.27 from this year's rate of $22.49.

Also Tuesday, the Newfane School Board adopted a $27.85 million budget for 2005-06 that carries a tax rate increase of 52 cents per $1,000. School Superintendent James N. Mills said the budget calls for an increase of $1.3 million, or 4.9 percent, over this year's $26.5 million package.

Mills said the budget would also raise the property tax levy by 3 percent, or $313,253, which would raise the tax rate to $26.64 per $1,000 assessed valuation, from this year's rate of $26.12.

Voters in Lewiston-Porter and Newfane will go to the polls May 17.

In Lewiston-Porter, trustees Nils Olsen, Carol Rogers and Jack Burmeister wanted the board to use the $800,000 increase in state aid to restore eliminated jobs and bolster the district's academic programs.

Board President Edward M. Lilly, however, said taxpayers were hit this year by an unexpected 14 percent increase in the tax rate, after the board had advertised that the increase would be only a third that size.

"We should have a zero percent spending increase this year if you consider what people paid last year," Lilly said.

Jane Ziobrowski, a member of the high school parents' group, said the organization, working with Schaubert and other administrators, found about $300,000 that could be used to restore teaching positions.

Schaubert said that it might be possible to restore three physical education teachers, a Spanish teacher, one reading instructor, a sixth-grade teacher, a fourth-grade teacher and a technology specialist from the Orleans-Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Lewiston-Porter United Teachers President Jean Henesey said the union has offered to take no pay raise in the coming year and a 1.5 percent raise in 2006-07, among other concessions, which would save the board about $500,000 and restore some of the jobs cut.

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