by Carreen Schroeder
After some discussion, the majority of Niagara-Wheatfield Board of Education members on March 19 proposed a 4.8 percent tax levy increase to its residents for the upcoming budget vote in May.
Some members were skeptical this proposal would pass, but the consensus was to push for the "most" in order to save as many school programs and staff positions as possible.
There was also serious concern with regard to the proposal for a new position within the transportation department. With the recent vacancy of two positions in the department, several new responsibilities have been on the shoulders of a part-time staff member. This has in turn, caused a delay in record-keeping among other areas, which is of particular concern for both District Superintendent Lynn Fusco and School Business Administrator Allison Brady.
The proposed full-time position would require one individual to not only carry a bus driver's license, but would also require that the same employee assist in bus maintenance and repairs, operate excel spreadsheets and maintain the vast array of record keeping within the transportation department.
Board member Amy Duell was skeptical that the district would successfully find an individual with such a versatile skill set. It was initially decided that the superintendent would re-evaluate the proposed job description and the board would revisit it at the next meeting but after a lengthy discussion, which involved student safety and legalities surrounding up-to-date record keeping, the motion was approved 4-2-1.
In other news
•The Niagara Wheatfield Central School District Board of Education will hold a public hearing to consider the adoption of a resolution for the Alternate Veterans' Property Tax Exemption at 7 p.m. April 2 in the Adult Learning Center at Niagara-Wheatfield High School, 2292 Saunders Settlement Road, Sanborn.
•Board President Steven Sabo urged all those in attendance and all residents to engage in a Call to Action over a 36-hour period starting at from 9 a.m. March 21. The idea was to flood the phone lines in Albany and demand the restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment. Sabo estimated that since 2008, the N-W School District has lost some $66 million due to the GEA. Sabo also encouraged all those with a vested interest, to join the rally on March 22 outside the office of State Sen. Mark Grisanti to protest Grisanti's vote to pass the Senate's budget proposal just days after he promised to defend public education.
•Congratulations went out to Lauren Soto, Alexis Bloom, Kaia Foster, Alyssa Hopper, Tyler Hutchinson, Destiny Profrock, Julia Plaek, Alivia Mariano, Autumn Allan and Arabeall Frantz, who opened the meeting with a colorful display of their "Invention Convention" inventions including "So Tote," "Sleeping in a Bag," "Sham-tastic Towel," "Hot Mat," "Laundry Matbag" and the "Nail Solver." These young students have been invited to attend the Western New York Invention Convention on Sunday, May 4.
•Accolades went out to all those who were involved in the sold-out performances of "Shrek the Musical" held at the high school March 6 to 9.
•Darren Sneed, a longtime resident of the Niagara-Wheatfield School District and a regular and active attendee at board meetings, was thanked by several board members for his consistent efforts in keeping the district focused on what truly matters: Keeping a united community in times of financial difficulty.