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Officials aim to pare tax hike in budget plan

Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District officials are trying to trim a $129.3 million 2006-07 preliminary spending plan in time for the School Board meeting Tuesday.

"We're looking for further reductions," School Superintendent Steven A. Achramovitch said Tuesday.

"The budget-to-budget increase [under the preliminary plan] is 4.6 percent. We're hoping to bring that closer to 4 percent or even under," Achramovitch added.

The current school district budget of $124.08 million represented an increase of just over 4 percent from the previous year's budget. That budget also called for a tax rate increase of 3.7 percent, which amounted to roughly $40 on a house assessed at $50,000.

The preliminary plan for 2006-07 was released by school district officials last week. If that plan were eventually approved by district voters, it would result in a 5.4 percent tax increase.

"The tax increase will certainly be reduced beyond where it is now," Achramovitch vowed Tuesday.

Among the perennial challenges for budget officials in the district are rising health insurance and pension costs for teachers and other district employees, Achramovitch said.

Still, the 2005-06 budget trimmed five teaching positions, 14 teacher's aides, four buildings and grounds positions and five clerical jobs, most of them through attrition.

As they look to cut costs this year, Achramovitch said, administrators are taking into account current staffing levels, class sizes and efforts to boost student achievement.

The Ken-Ton School Board meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Philip Sheridan Building, 3200 Elmwood Ave., Town of Tonawanda.

Achramovitch said the board is scheduled to adopt a budget April 6.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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