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3 'scenarios' aired at budget session

Administrators in the Ken-Ton School District want to make this perfectly clear:

The three "scenarios" presented at Wednesday night's budget work session weren't a proposed budget, an actual budget or even a draft budget for 2011-12.

"They are not budgets being recommended to the Board of Education. These aren't recommendations. These are scenarios," School Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro emphasized.

The session in Hoover Middle School auditorium drew a crowd of 100 or more, including many district employees and teachers, some of whom later spoke out to save their jobs.

A preliminary budget for 2011-12 will be presented Tuesday, the day on which the board was scheduled to adopt a budget. That has been pushed back to April 12.

The district is facing a $13.8 million budget gap caused by changes to the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with NRG's Huntley power plant; state aid reductions; increases in health insurance and retirement costs, as well as contracted salary increases; and the discontinuation of federal stimulus funding.

The three scenarios discussed Wednesday presented a combination of options -- including eliminating jobs, increasing class sizes and variable use of fund balances and reserves -- with corresponding tax rate increases ranging from 6.98 percent to 14.36 percent.

Scenario A, which carries the highest tax rate increase, is the most conservative in its effect on programs. Even so, it eliminates three elementary positions -- attributed to lower enrollment at Holmes Elementary School, and two at Kenmore East High School, where enrollment in elective courses factors into staffing.

Two program supervisor positions are on the chopping block, as is the job of the public relations coordinator.

Scenario B, with its tax rate increase of 10.03 percent, takes things further with more personnel cuts and reductions to some programs, including gifted and talented. The school resource officer program would be eliminated, and class size guidelines would increase for grades three to five and at the secondary level.

Additional class-size increases and the elimination of summer school at the middle school level are part of Scenario C, which carries a tax rate increase of 6.98 percent. After the presentation, members of the School Board voiced concerns about class sizes, and the elimination of school resource officers and program supervisors, among other things. Then, several teachers spoke in defense of their jobs and programs.

"What bothers me more than anything else, I am not hearing a public outcry," said School Board President Bob Dana. "That has me really concerned about the future."

e-mail: jhabuda@buffnews.com

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