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The Depew School Board has adopted a $32.5 million spending plan for the 2005-06 school year that would increase the amount to be raised by property taxes by 1.19 percent.

The plan would increase spending by $864,669, or 2.73 percent, over the current budget.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 5 in the Senior High School auditorium on South Transit Road. The public will vote May 17.

District Business Manager Theresa Rusin said Monday that the same items affecting most school districts accounted for the projected rise in spending, including increases in employee health insurance costs, pension contributions and utility costs.

Mandated pension contributions, for instance, rose by $339,000 over what the district currently spends. However, Rusin said the district is projected to save about $200,000 in projected health insurance costs over what it might have spent.

"We try to control those costs through negotiations," she said.

The district last year joined with Erie 2 Board of Cooperative Educational Services to provide lower cost health insurance for some of its employees, who are now enrolled in health maintenance organizations.

Rusin said district administrators continually look for ways to reduce costs, such as entering an energy performance contract a couple of years ago, which this year will save the district about $164,000 in energy costs. Under that agreement, the district installed new energy-saving units..

"So, not only are we helping the planet, but we're also helping our bottom line by being more cost-efficient," Rusin said.

Under the budget proposal, the district plans to leave six elementary school teaching positions unfilled for an annual savings of $185,000.

Rusin said: "We're adjusting staffing to enrollment," which is projected to dip districtwide to 2,358 from 2,377 this year.

The budget would maintain current academic and interscholastic athletic programs.

It calls for spending $211,428 to replace aging computers used in the classroom. And the budget also anticipates a projected $657,106 state aid increase to $13.8 million in the coming school year.

"It's great to have the formula early this year," Rusin said, referring to the state budget that was adopted on time this year. "We're using (the state aid increase) to keep the tax levy low."


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