Niagara Gazette

Lewiston

April 9, 2014

Lew-Port school board weighing 3.95 percent tax levy increase

Niagara Gazette — With less than a month to finalize its spending plan proposal for 2014-15, Lewiston-Porter School Board members are close to making a decision. About $12,000 close.

Superintendent Christopher Roser provided board members with his recommended budget Tuesday during the group’s final scheduled budget workshop, informing officials he can balance about $41.2 million next year.

To do so, Roser said he’d need a 3.95 percent increase to the district’s property tax levy, a figure well below the 4.42 percent threshold determined by the state’s tax cap law.

“My recommendation is the budget we have is the budget that should go to the voters,” Roser said. “I don’t think it would be prudent of us to (spend) any higher.”

Board members have until April 25 to make a final decision on spending and tax levy totals before voters decide if they made a reasonable choice May 20.

Among the major increases in Roser’s proposal is a significant jump in salaries for teacher aides, which would rise to $479,000 – up 44 percent. Teacher aides were a major casualty this past June when Roser was forced by unfavorable financial circumstances to slash all non-essential aides, cutting the salary figure from $628,000 in 12-13 to $332,000 this year.

As far as teacher salaries, which alone contributes to a majority of the budget, Roser’s plan calls for $4.3 million in educators of grades kindergarten through sixth, $5.3 million for those employed in grades seven through 12 and $221,000 for substitutes. These figures represent a 4.8 percent increase from this year’s figure at the elementary level and a 1 percent jump at the middle and high schools.

There’s no increase in budget for substitutes.

Additionally, as teacher salaries increased, so too did the district’s responsibility funding the teacher retirement system. Mandated by the state constitution to be fully funded, Lew-Port is required to pay $2.5 million next year, a whopping 40.3 percent increase from this year, or roughly $704,000 extra.

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