There was a palpable sense of relief Monday evening after the Clarence School Board approved the 2014-15 school budget and nobody raised a hand to say something during the public comment session.
What a difference from last year. Facing a 9.8 percent hike in the tax levy, residents resisted loud and strong, then came out to the polls to vote that budget down.
The new budget, with total expenditures of $72,591,945, up from $70,846,804, carries an estimated tax levy of $42,439,977. Spending is 2.46 percent higher, with a tax levy increase at 3.16 percent, the tax cap limit.
The tax rate will be $15 per $1,000 assessed value, up from $14.61. School officials said the tax increase on the average home would be $78, but that would be rebated under provisions in the new New York State budget.
“So the impact on the homeowner in this budget is essentially zero,” Superintendent Geoffrey M. Hicks said.
The board gave the budget unanimous approval. A public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 p.m. May 12 in the Clarence High School Lecture Hall. Balloting will take place from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. May 20 in the high school.
A budget and tax report card is available on the district’s website at www.clarenceschools.org.
In a public comment period earlier in the meeting, district business officer Richard J. Mancuso and board president Michael Lex answered questions from a resident who wanted to know why school buses were being replaced after 100,000 miles of service.
“The body is a key part of it,” Mancuso said. “These buses are just going to wear out. One hundred thousand miles is equal to 240,000 on a diesel truck and some we’re getting rid of are pushing 170,000.”
In other business, the board approved the appointment of John Mikulski as assistant principal of Clarence Middle School.
Mikulski, who has been a seventh- and eighth-grade English language arts teacher in the Niagara Wheatfield School District for 11 years, will begin his new duties May 5.
The board also heard the first reading of an updated policy on the prohibition of weapons on school grounds.
Exceptions would be made for police officers, members of the rifle team and any club or activity using the rifle range.