ADVERTISEMENT

SANBORN – The Niagara Wheatfield Board of Education voted Wednesday to offer residents a reduced version of the budget that narrowly failed at the polls Tuesday.

On June 18, voters will consider a $62.32 million proposal that carries a 4.5 percent increase in the tax levy.

Tuesday, a $62.75 million version with a 5.91 percent tax increase was rejected by three votes out of nearly 3,200 cast.

Superintendent James Knowles said Friday that the reduction the board chose in the tax levy increase requires a cut of $430,000 in spending that had been included in the original budget.

As of Wednesday’s School Board meeting, the tentative plan was to save $300,000 by laying off the equivalent of four full-time teachers in the middle school, while the other $130,000 in reductions would come from the districtwide roster of support staff, such as aides, monitors and cleaners.

Business Manager Richard Hitzges said, “Jim and I still have to determine the composition of those reductions.”

However, the final decision on which budget lines are to be cut won’t be made until the June 5 board meeting.

“It’s possible that when we sit down with the leadership group, there could be changes,” Knowles said. That group includes principals and directors, he said.

Hitzges said if the second budget is voted down at the polls June 18, the district would have to use a contingency budget. That would require the district to charge property owners the same tax levy as it did last year.

Hitzges said the spending total in a contingency budget would be $61.06 million. That’s nearly $500,000 more than last year’s adopted budget, but Hitzges said increases in state aid and other nontax revenues would make up the difference.

“Niagara Wheatfield does not have a fund balance to offset reductions in programs,” Hitzges said.

If Niagara Wheatfield goes to a contingency budget, Knowles said, nonmandated programs would be in line for cuts.

Examples could be a reduction in kindergarten from full-day to half-day and cuts in interscholastic sports.

“Our effort would be to stay as far away from the educational program as possible,” the superintendent said.

However, he emphasized that full-day kindergarten and sports are not being cut in the budget version offered to voters June 18.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com