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School budget OK'd in Wilson Some tax rates would rise, others fall in district

WILSON -- The Wilson School Board this week adopted a proposed $22.46 million budget for the 2007-08 school year.

It will carry an estimated a 40 cents per $1,000 tax rate hike for Wilson-Porter area property owners and a tax rate decrease of about $1.33 for those in Cambria and Newfane that live within the school district.

District officials estimate the tax rate for Wilson-Porter property owners will rise from $24.37 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $24.77 per $1,000. The estimate for the Cambria-Newfane area property owners shows the rate should fall from $24.37 per $1,000 to $23.04.

Assessors don't have enough information on property assessments this time of year to come up with absolute tax rate figures, School Superintendent Michael Wendt said last week.

The proposed budget will be presented to district voters for approval May 15, when School Board elections also will be held.

Wendt said the proposed budget is up 3.96 percent, or $856,523, over this year's $21.6 million spending package.

It would push up the tax levy by $51,507, a 0.5 percent increase. If approved by voters, the tax levy would rise from $9.49 million to $9.54 million.

Along with the tax levy increase, Wendt said the budget will be bolstered by a 6.25 percent increase in state aid, $718,000 above this year's state allocations.

"That's allowed us to get along with a modest tax levy increase," Wendt said, adding, ". . . I'm very happy with [the state] budget."

The superintendent said the school district has a very limited tax base to work with.

Wendt said the board was able to keep taxes down while maintaining existing programs and staff and providing more academic intervention services in all district school buildings in the core subject areas of English, mathematics, social studies and science.

"Any kid who needs extra help in any of these subjects can get it before and after school," Wendt said. He also said the budget will fund lacrosse as a new high school interscholastic team sport, and provide a morning exercise program for elementary students.

"We've had a club lacrosse team for several years and they've come to us year after year asking the board to make it a school sport," he said.

Wendt said the board finally agreed to bring lacrosse on board because "we believe activities like this help keep kids interested in school. And we know there's a high correlation between extracurricular activities and high academic performance. It gives them the incentive to do better academically because they have to maintain good grades if they want to remain eligible to participate in activities like lacrosse."

He said the morning exercise program is important because there's a direct link between kids who get aerobic exercise and improved performance in the classroom.

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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