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Budget hiking spending by 5.46% OK'd

The Orchard Park School Board adopted a proposed budget Tuesday that would increase spending by 5.46 percent and provide for a grant writer, a student data tracking system and a security plan.

The budget also includes $430,000 in undisclosed staff cuts.

The spending plan increases the total amount to be collected in taxes by 3.8 percent. As a result of a growth in assessments, the tax rate will increase only about 1.5 percent, officials said.

"I really believe this budget focuses on children and programs but also considers the resources of the community," Superintendent Joan D. Thomas said.

At $67.5 million, the proposed budget is $3.5 million higher than this year's. Thomas and Assistant Superintendent Jeffrey Petrus attributed two-thirds of that increase to rising costs for utilities, diesel fuel, health insurance, pension contributions and debt service.

Pension contributions, the largest item, are projected to increase $687,000.

Thomas said she used "creative" ways to curtail expenditures. Two clerical positions in the central office left vacant through retirements will not be filled, she said. Aside from that, Thomas and Petrus declined to detail the staff cuts.

After the meeting, Petrus said the details would be released "in the very near future," after Thomas had a chance to present the cuts and reshufflings to the staff.

The budget includes $119,000 for a new student data tracking system, plus $135,000 for a scaled-back version of a school security plan that parents have been urging. Cameras will be installed at all the schools, and a swipe card system will be added at all schools but the high school. Rather than providing full-time monitors to watch the cameras, the plan provides part-time monitors only for the elementary schools.

Other new items in the budget include $24,000 for a grant writer for six months, $25,000 for preventive maintenance, $5,000 as partial funding for a hockey program and $10,000 for equipment and uniforms for the music department.

e-mail: mpasciak@buffnews.com

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