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Proposed tax increase cut to 3.73%

Spending would increase by less than 1 percent under the East Aurora School District's preliminary $28.25 million budget for next year.

But the amount to be raised through property taxes would increase 3.73 percent, which is down from the 3.95 percent originally projected.

To deal with its loss in state aid, the district faces staff cuts -- chiefly 8.3 teaching positions and seven full-time equivalent teacher's aides.

"We're using the philosophy of scalpel vs. chain saw right now," Superintendent James Bodziak said. "We're trying to trim rather than slash. We want the budget still good for education, but keep the tax levy increase to a minimum."

The School Board expects to meet again in a special session Wednesday to discuss concessions expected from the district's unions.

"The School Board and employees would like to avoid further reductions in staffing and hope for some union givebacks to allow for a lower tax rate increase and avoid more cuts," said Daniel Brunson, board president. "The way to get this done is to do it so it will save you year after year after year. If you don't, it will come back to haunt you."

The district faces a substantial loss in state aid, down by 9.43 percent or $611,814, under Gov. David A. Paterson's proposal.

East Aurora also will have to deal with $307,900 more in health insurance costs, as well as an 8.6 percent increase or an additional $109,400 in state teacher retirement system contributions.

In addition to eliminating the 8.3 teacher positions, full and part time, and seven full-time equivalent teacher's aides, recommended actions include:

*Eliminating the superintendent of buildings and grounds position, which was left vacant last fall after Jim Andres resigned.

*Eliminating summer school for all grade levels and the keyboarding program at the elementary and middle school level.

*Merging fifth- and sixth-grade bands, orchestras and choruses.

*Cutting the athletic budget by $30,000 and reducing the number of game personnel per athletic contest.

*Handling many services in-house instead of contracting through the Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

*Reducing one section of high school electives for each of the four core academic areas and slashing the number of clubs and intramural sports at the middle and high schools.

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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