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N-W officials work on budget cuts

by jmaloni
Thu, Feb 23rd 2012 07:00 am

The Niagara Wheatfield Board of Education will hold a budget workshop at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the West Street Elementary School, 5700 West St., Sanborn. The meeting will be conducted in the Sugar Maple Pod-Music Room 182.

The board is looking at ways to reduce a budget deficit of approximately $10.9 million caused by reduced revenues and increased expenses. Proposals range from cuts in teachers and administrators to elimination of some non-mandated programs.

This month, the board approved moving on an interim basis Colonial Village Principal Timothy Carter to the high school principal vacancy being covered by Edward Town Middle School Principal Laura Palka, and appointed Charles Smilinich, West Street assistant principal, to fill Carter's position at Colonial Village.

Interim Superintendent Kerin Dumphrey wrote on the district's website:

"The challenge in preparing the 2012-2013 budget is greater this year, than in any other I have seen in my 18 years at Niagara-Wheatfield. Our district is at a crossroads like never before in all my years working for this district. As your new interim superintendent, I ask all of you for your support.

"While we have been keeping tax rates at the second lowest level in Niagara County, and about 30 percent below the average real property tax rate in the county, we are now faced with a very harsh fiscal dilemma. We are at a point where we are facing a tax levy limit with no provision for the exclusion of budgetary items mandated by the state and contractual obligations, over which the school district has no control.

"While capping the property tax levy limit has a natural appeal, the impact on our school district could be devastating. Any limit that does not include real and significant mandate relief leaves no choice but to cut programs and eliminate jobs.

"If a proposed tax levy, higher than the levy limit, is defeated by the voters, the district's tax levy would be at the prior year's tax amount. This would be devastating.

"Building the 2012-2013 school budget is going to involve difficult decisions. If Niagara-Wheatfield schools are to remain a place we all can be proud of, it needs your support now more than ever. Please participate in the budget building process by attending board meetings, budget workshops and visiting our district website to fill out the board budget survey."

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