Niagara Gazette


April 16, 2013

Lew-Port school board holds off approving budget plan

Niagara Gazette — A packed house assembled in the board meeting room to address a proposed 2013-14 Lewiston-Porter School District spending plan.

Whether it's cuts to music or art instruction, or the business department in the high school, residents flowed through the double doors and lined up to speak their minds. The science department also is suffering under the latest budget proposal, with two proposed job cuts despite growing concerns nationwide about technical education.

"It boggles my mind we can sit here discussing ways we can inspire and educate our students in 21st century math and science careers and yet have to cut two science teachers and a math teacher," Michelle Hinchliffe, a science teacher at the district's high school, said.

About 15 speakers, ranging from students to teachers to parents took the opportunity to provide feedback on the preliminary budget school board members have been considering for months.

However, their voices were met with inaction by the board despite listing a vote to adopt a budget on its agenda for Tuesday's meeting. By tabling the adoption, it provides the board time to digest the comments and decide next week.

The state's deadline for budget adoption is Friday, April 26.

After a handful of budget planning sessions, Superintendent Christopher Roser's spending plan proposal appears ready to go to vote, though. It's a budget based on decreasing enrollment and decreasing income to balance out expenses. The state budget approved earlier this month provides $10.7 million in state funding to Lewiston-Porter, more than $900,000 additional from what Gov. Andrew Cuomo initially proposed in his February executive budget.

But the figure still represents a decrease in state aid from this year by more than $600,000. It's led the district to automatically assume asking taxpayers for the maximum increase it's allowed under the state's property tax levy cap, this year set at 4 percent.

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