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Budget changed at last minute

The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School Board made some last-minute changes Tuesday night before adopting a 2007-08 budget that would raise property tax rates by an estimated 3.76 percent.

In a unanimous vote, the board adopted a spending plan totaling almost $135.7 million, which represents an increase of 4.98 percent over the current budget. The tax rate would increase by $1.33 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, to $36.65 per $1,000.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 8 in the community room of the Philip Sheridan Building, 3200 Elmwood Ave. On May 15, voters will cast ballots on the budget, two propositions and to fill two seats on the School Board.

The last-minute changes to the budget included word from acting Superintendent Anne L. Marotta of $50,000 in savings resulting from several resignations. And the board agreed to reduce, from $100,000 to $75,000, the amount set aside for a new state mandate regarding programs for students with disabilities.

The inclusion of $200,000 to develop and implement a security plan for the district's two high schools was among other budget issues discussed. That budgeted sum is split equally between equipment and contractual expenses.

But at this point, it's unknown whether the program would involve school resource officers from the Town of Tonawanda Police Department, a security firm or monitors.

"The money's being set aside so that in the next budget cycle, should all this be vetted out, we're ready," said board President Melissa Brinson.

"Clearly, every one of the board members has spoken out about the need to address this situation," Brinson said.

Vice President Louis Reuter said: "Not only do we have an obligation to provide quality education . . . we are very concerned that we have our students in a very safe atmosphere." Monday's massacre at Virginia Tech, where a student gunman killed 32 people before taking his own life, "is an indication of the problems society faces today," Reuter said.

The propositions before voters are to buy up to 12 school buses, at a cost not to exceed almost $1.1 million, and for roughly $5.5 million in capital improvements at both high schools, as well as Hoover Elementary and Middle schools, and Edison Elementary and Kenmore Middle schools. State aid would offset the capital improvements costs to be paid by taxpayers.

Four candidates have entered the race for two seats on the School Board: Paul V. Murdie, Charles J. Wuest, Bryan P. Wandel and Jill Ann Robbins-Jabine. Terms are for three years.

Incumbents Paul L. Stencel and Kellie Poynton-Gallagher are not seeking re-election.


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