Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 14, 2013

Lew-Port board optimistic spending plan that exceeds tax cap will be approved by voters

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — The spending plan does do its fair share of cutting positions in addition to raising taxes, eliminating or reducing 29 positions heading into next school year. Part of a four-year slash in staffing – mainly accomplished through attrition until the current year's budget called for layoffs – the plan affects several programs throughout each of the district's four buildings.

Superintendent Christopher Roser said the cuts to both teaching staff and the aides will cause dramatic differences, even with a tax increase over the state's levy limit.

"There will be a lack of flexibility," Roser said. "It will cause some kids to be forced to not take some of the classes they'll want to take. And the big one which has everyone from teachers to support staff worried is the aide situation. They are the ones who fill in the cracks of the wall. We'll be cutting them which means less of them. We've reduced our funding for substitute teachers, meaning if teachers call in sick, there will be classes canceled and kids will be taken to the cafeteria. It's not the ideal situation, but it's what we have to deal with."

The district is where it stands not because of spending too much, officials said Tuesday. What ails Lewiston-Porter is actually the revenues it is receiving. Following the implementation of then-Gov. David Paterson's gap elimination adjustment to aid to schools from Albany in 2009, the district has been unable to collect more than $9 million.

Roser said continuing to take money from the state level only cause a double-sided issue for the district and every other school district throughout the state. It's like being caught between a rock and a hard place, Roser said.

"You just can't take $9 million from a $40 million budget and not expect something to happen," he said. "We've been living in our budget, in our means, since it was created. We've spent money from our unreserved fund, which was $1.8 million. We've been reducing staff. But we couldn't do it anymore."

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.

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