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Proposed school budget is 2.1 percent above the current district spending plan

If the proposed $27.9 million budget approved unanimously Tuesday night by the Fredonia Board of Education is defeated twice by district voters, the board may have to consider making cuts in educational programs, Superintendent Paul DiFonzo said.

If the budget should be defeated twice, an additional $497,596 will have to be reduced from the proposed tax levy.

The proposed budget is 2.1 percent above the current spending plan. It has an estimated tax levy of $14.6 million, which is up 3.54 percent from this year.

The projected tax rates per $1,000 of assessed valuation are: Town of Pomfret, $111.05 (up $2.77); Town of Arkwright, $37.52 (up 93 cents); Town of Portland, $36.61 (up 91 cents); Town of Sheridan, $32.43 (up 81 cents); Town of Dunkirk, $27.85 (up 69 cents).

The amount of fund balance appropriated for 2012-2013 has jumped to $1.3 million. A lower amount, $870,000, was appropriated this year. This is the district's "rainy day" fund.

DiFonzo said that if the district appropriated $1.3 million each year, the money would run out in two years.

The total for salaries and benefits in the 2012-2013 budget is $18.5 million, a 3.85 percent increase, with $2.6 million of that going for group health insurance and $1.5 million toward the teacher and employee retirement systems. It was noted salaries comprise 46 percent of the total district budget.

The BOCES budget tentatively is increasing by only $1,846, to $2.9 million.

The proposed budget allows for the hiring of two new administrators.

DiFonzo said, "We cannot do what the state mandates us to do with the manpower we currently have."

He said the teacher evaluation system mandated by the state is one key reason for the increase in administrative responsibilities. "We owe it to the students and the teachers to do this properly, " he said.

In 2010-2011, 45.03 percent of the budget came from state aid and 50.70 percent came from the tax levy. In the proposed 2012-2013 budget, 41.18 percent will come from state aid and 52.44 percent from taxes.

The proposed budget is in compliance with the requirements of the state property tax cap levy limit, Business Administrator John Forbes said.

The public hearing on the proposed budget is set for 6:30 p.m. May 8 in Room 636 of the high school, with the regular board meeting following. District residents will vote on the budget from 2 to 9 p.m. May 15 in the high school cafeteria.

Current board members Michael Bobseine and David Giambrone both are running for re-election unopposed.

Absentee voting ballots will be available in the district office beginning today.

The next board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Room 636 of the high school.