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East Aurora’s ever-changing school budget proposal has taken a turn that leads to nearly $200,000 in cuts that were not expected, including the elimination of modified sports and cutting 3.5 full-time equivalent staff positions.

The administration included the cuts last week in a $29.85 million budget draft – its third one – after a divided School Board asked for more cuts.

Heading into Wednesday’s expected budget adoption, the budget calls for a 3.37 percent increase in the tax levy – the maximum allowed – while spending will go up by 2.56 percent. Taxpayers owning a home assessed at $100,000 would face an estimated $121 increase in their taxes next year.

Budget debate continues to be dominated by some board members, who insisted last fall that they wanted the 2013-14 budget to be free of any program or staff cuts. However, others on the board argued that the district needs a budget that lives more within its means – even if it leads to staff cuts and program adjustments – so that it relies less on savings and reserves.

“We tried to focus on cuts with the least impact on our students,” Superintendent Brian D. Russ said. “We are trying to bring a healthier budget back. We tried to stay away from programming to the best of our ability ...

“Would I want to do any of those cuts? No.”

New is that the district is calling for scrapping modified soccer and basketball for boys and girls to achieve a $22,100 savings. Projected staff cuts now total 3.5 full-time equivalent positions. Included in those is a full-time sixth-grade Middle School teacher and a full-time teacher’s aide at that building, tied to enrollment; in addition to a full-time clerical position at the high school; and a 0.5 clerical position for the central office. Expenses for conferences were shaved by $10,000.

The administration had to increase appropriations by $116,027, primarily tied to an $82,500 adjustment in health insurance expenses.

The latest budget draft contains revenue adjustments that rely less on savings and sales tax revenue projections. State aid revenues ended up increasing by $150,668 more than anticipated, which helped the district close its budget gap and avoid more cuts.

To restore a part-time gym teacher at Parkdale, the administration said it is considering cutting $22,000 from its utility expenses and upping its sales tax revenue estimate to come up with the remaining money needed to fund the $44,100 for the job.

email: krobinson@buffnews.com