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School Board adopts budget; Includes staff cuts, and 2.8% tax rate hike

The Cheektowaga School Board this week adopted a $39.1 million budget that includes across the board staff cuts, including 14 teacher and six support staff positions.

Initial budget proposals had the cuts even higher, with 18 teaching positions scheduled to be eliminated. That number was lowered to 17 positions, three of which were absorbed through retirements.

The new budget is an increase of $341,445 over last year's spending plan and will increase the tax rate by 2.8 percent, bringing it to $26.63 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, School Superintendent Dennis P. Kane told The Buffalo News.

Kane attributed the tax increase and staff cuts to the end of stimulus funding, the tax cap and rising costs for health insurance, salaries and pensions.

"That was huge," he said. "The stimulus money for the last few years helped offset state aid reductions. We don't have it anymore."

"This is the third year in a row of cutting staff," Kane said. "How much can you keep on cutting staff in the future to balance your budget? Yes, we balance budgets by cutting, but how can we do that every year?"

Some residents concerned about proposed reductions in the music department attended Tuesday night's board meeting, he said.

"We got a pretty forceful response to that," Kane said. "We're doing everything we possibly can to restore the music cuts."

Class size has also been increased, he said.

"We think it's a class size increase that's doable, but beyond this, it won't be doable," he said.