Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 11, 2013

Re-elected president, Sabo looks to Niagara-Wheatfield's future

Niagara Gazette — WHEATFIELD — Steve Sabo and the rest of the seven-member Niagara-Wheatfield School Board felt a third year under his leadership would best serve the district and the community as a whole.

Well, Sabo himself didn’t vote in the decision to name him president for the third consecutive year — he said he didn’t want to vote for himself — but afterward, he laid out a couple goals he has for the financially embattled school system.

“I want this district to get back to being fiscally sound,” he said. “I believe we’re close. And as we get closer, I’d also like to work with (newly sworn-in Superintendent Lynn Marie) Fusco to get the district strong educationally.

“It’s going to be a great time. We want to (take) Niagara-Wheatfield back educationally to where it was a few years ago.”

Niagara-Wheatfield has been a rotating door of top officials in recent years, which was brought on by financial instability and poor management. Former Superintendent Carl Militello retired following two consecutive audit reports showing spending errors which culminated in an almost $7 million shortfall heading into the 2012-13 school year.

After Militello departed, two interim bosses took temporary control of the situation but neither were able to stabilize the district enough to see a budget approved in a May election. Both Kerin Dumphrey, who retired from his post as district business manager, after a five-month stint as interim superintendent, in April, and James Knowles, who served as leader for the entire 2012-13 school year, were unsuccessful planning future spending without voters first telling them to make more cuts.

The result is a tax levy which has increased 4.85 percent and 4.5 percent each of the last two years, respectively. Sabo’s plans would have him and Fusco oversee a budget for next May’s district election which doesn’t fail at the polls.

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