Niagara Gazette

June 17, 2013

Lew-Port, Niagara-Wheatfield put up second school budgets for vote Tuesday

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Tuesday is decision day in two local school districts, as voting will determine the fates of operating budgets in Lewiston-Porter and Niagara-Wheatfield.

In Niagara-Wheatfield, a $62.4 million spending plan is proposed for 2013-14 which eliminates more than eight teaching positions and more than 10 support positions – including five in-class teacher aides – after a $62.8 million plan was defeated last month by three votes.

With its proposed 4.5 percent tax levy increase, the district is below its state property tax cap amount by 1.4 percent.

The district, which has hired Alden Superintendent Lynn Fusco to lead it next year, could be looking at cutting its kindergarten to half-day if a second vote also fails, a decision which could save the district $180,000 but create many more problems concerning providing education to its students.

Also a likely elimination should the voters again say no would be interscholastic sports, which come with a price tag of about $450,000 including varsity and junior varsity.

Part of a possible contingency budget, both programs could be eliminated because the district’s school board would need to make more than $1 million more in cuts above and beyond the eliminations found in the proposed spending plan.

Niagara-Wheatfield voters will be able to cast ballots between noon and 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Adult learning Center of the district’s high school, 2292 Saunders Settlement Road, Lewiston.

Lewiston-Porter is in a similar situation as Niagara-Wheatfield Tuesday, following a failed budget proposal in may which would have increased its tax levy, or total dollar amount collected in tax money, by 5.52 percent.

Learning from the mistake, the district returned its budget proposal below its tax cap levy figure to a 3.95 percent increase for the second vote.

Unlike many other districts, Lew-Port has decreased its spending from this year to what it has proposed in 2013-14, even before the first budget failed. Its $39.6 million plan eliminates several popular programs like many modified sports programs for middle school students, all transportation costs for field trips and an afterschool assistance program for struggling or underperforming high school students.

Also eliminated are 38 positions within the district, including an administrator, 11 teachers and 19 teacher aides.

Like Niagara-Wheatfield, Superintendent R. Christopher Roser said if this second budget fails to receive enough support, there could be devastating cuts to kindergarten – reduced to half-day – and interscholastic sports – including cuts to varsity and junior varsity programs – as the district attempts to close its contingency budget.

He said he’d need to find an additional $900,000 in a budget which is already being reduced to combat a loss of state aid income.

Voters will have the final say from noon to 8 p.m. in the district’s Community Resource Center, 4061 Creek Road.



BUDGET VOTES Lewiston-Porter • BUDGET AMOUNT: $39.6M • TAX LEVY INCREASE: 3.95 percent • VOTING: Noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Community Resource Center, 4061 Creek Road Niagara-Wheatfield • BUDGET AMOUNT: $62.4M • TAX LEVY INCREASE: 4.5 percent • VOTING: Noon and 8 p.m. Tuesday, Adult Learning Center at high school, 2292 Saunders Settlement Road


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