Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 26, 2014

LEW-PORT: District officials discuss budget plans

Niagara Gazette — Cautious optimism continues to be the theme to assembling Lewiston-Porter’s 2014-15 school district spending plan. 

As officials await updated information from New York state’s budget, they’re stuck with wishes and hopes put to them by the building-level administrators responsible for assembling education teams of teachers and support staff.

The groups were hit hard last June after an initial attempt to override the state’s property tax levy cap law failed. Teachers were laid off and those in positions to help supplement learning were also left without jobs in all four instructional buildings.

Now there’s thought, pending the state’s final budget decision, some of those decisions could be revisited. It’s just a matter of how much and which have priority.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” school board vice president Jodee Riordan said Tuesday. “If (the state budget) goes badly, we’re looking at cuts. But we’ll do what we can. What’s encouraging is we’ve gotten really good at sharing across the whole district. A few years ago, that wasn’t the case.”

Riordan served as president of the seven-member board last year when the group asked taxpayers to support a hefty levy increase in order to provide, among other things, modified athletics at the middle school level, an afterschool homework program and the salaries of a pair of teachers responsible for specific programs within the district.

These were all lost, along with about 10 other teaching positions and a slew of assistants and monitors, after the attempt’s defeat and a second proposal was passed at a lower tax increase in June.

Now, administrators have laid out what exactly is happening due to the cuts and, in some cases, the result isn’t good. For instance, the front office staff at the primary and intermediate buildings have been forced to share a part-time employee this year, which has led both principals to support returning to the previous structure.

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