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3 vying for open 5-year seat on board

Three candidates are running for one open seat on the Cheektowaga Central School Board next month.

Mark R. Czaplicki, Paul A. Nazzarett Jr. and Mitchell A. Martin are seeking the five-year seat on the board now held by Jane P. Okun, who is not seeking re-election.

Residents also will vote on several propositions during the election from noon to 9 p.m. May 15. One proposal would continue the practice of having a nonvoting student representative serve on the School Board.

The other propositions include the 2007-08 budget and a proposal to set up a capital reserve fund.

If voters approve the capital reserve fund, $790,000 would be transferred from the fund balance to the reserve fund. The money would be used to reduce the amount to be borrowed for the $10 million capital project approved in December.

The $35.34 million budget, adopted by the board April 3, raises spending by 6.5 percent over the current year. The tax rate would rise by 74 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, to $28.25 per $1,000, or 2.7 percent. The tax levy would go up by $57,420,to $20.78 million, also 2.7 percent.

Many of the spending increases are because of increases in the costs of special education, retirement, health insurance and energy, according to district officials.

Assistant Superintendent Dennis M. Kane said the school district will receive $441,336 in additional state aid this year. The board applied $191,336 to reduce the tax rate. An additional $200,000 will be put aside for salaries to help improve student achievement.

"The board feels there are some things to be done to strengthen student achievement," Kane said. "Whatever they do to increase student achievement probably will include hiring additional staff."

The remaining $50,000 will be set aside for a personal development initiative, a fund to be used to provide resources for some of the district's at-risk students.

Among the issues addressed in the budget is class size. In the elementary grades, class size would be reduced to 20 or 21, compared with the figure of 24 to 25 for this year. A physical-education teacher would be added at Union East, allowing pupils to have gym three times in a six-day cycle.

Because of a decrease in the number of middle school pupils, the number of teaching teams would be decreased from six to five. Two teachers are retiring, and the other teachers are to be assigned to the high school, where enrollment is increasing.

The district plans to start a Family Support Center, with evening hours two times a week. Some school staff will be involved, but the district plans to be a host site for providers of community services, district officials said.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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