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Fallout from Cuomo budget awaited

Like their colleagues across the state, administrators in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District nervously are awaiting next week's unveiling of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's proposed budget, which is expected to call for limiting increases in school taxes.

"We are sure he will indicate some type of tax cap," School Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro said at Tuesday night's budget workshop -- the first of four public sessions on shaping the budget for the coming year.

Cuomo has called for limiting property tax increases to 2 percent a year, or 120 percent of the rate of inflation -- whichever is lower.

In Ken-Ton, that would limit year-to-year budget increases to less than $3 million, administrators said Tuesday night. That amount also would have to cover contractual obligations -- including the 0.87 percent annual raises for teachers proved in the contract approved last year.

Enrollment projections suggest the district will have 76 fewer students next year, Mondanaro said. The implications for staffing are expected to be disclosed at the board next meeting -- Feb. 8 in Kenmore West High School.

"We want to verify the numbers," Mondanaro said.

But the expiration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- commonly known as economic stimulus money -- jeopardizes some programs.

They include NOVANet, an on-line learning program that enabled 50 credit-deficient students to graduate in the past two years. Stimulus money had paid for the salaries and benefits of two teaching assistants and the NOVANet teacher who supervised them.

Mondanaro said where to spend the stimulus money had been an issue. "You didn't want to put personnel into the stimulus budget," he said.


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