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District pursues stability in programs, faculty, but Grant Street likely to close

Unlike many other school districts trying to cope with the state budget crisis, North Tonawanda won't cut back on programs or lay off teachers in the $62.8 million budget.

But a school, that's another story.

The district faces $3 million in cuts from the state, the School Board was told during a budget workshop Monday night.

That loss and declining enrollment means Grant Street School is expected to close in September. The decision will be made by the board in its final budget meeting April 13.

Superintendent Vincent J. Vecciarella said four universal prekindergartens and two alternative high schools will all move to Meadow Elementary School.

This closing will save the district $100,000, he said.

Two entities that use Grant Street School for classroom space, Niagara County Head Start and United Cerebral Palsy's Niagara Children's Educational Treatment Center, would be forced to relocate when the school closes.

Also, because of construction planned for next year, a third-grade class will move to Meadow Elementary from Spruce Elementary in order to give Spruce room to move classes during construction.

Vecciarella said that Grant Street School will not be "mothballed" and suggested that in the future the school may even be considered for renovation work.

Board members plan to use at least $1 million of $4 million in unappropriated fund balance to address the budget shortfall.

The board also plans to cut some positions through attrition.

The tax rate is expected to stay the same.

Staff has until April 1 to announce retirements. The next board workshop April 6 will discuss salary savings after those departures are determined.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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