Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 24, 2013

Lew-Port exceeding tax cap as spending plan comes with 5.5 percent levy increase


Niagara Gazette — Sports would be completely funded in the budget, as would the high school’s afterschool assistance program. It was also set to be eliminated to save approximately $31,000, but Principal Paul Casseri said it affects hundreds of students who need a little help completing school work. The adopted budget, if approved, would fund 67 percent of the program.

It also restores full-day pre-kindergarten ($54,000), transportation spending for half of the district’s field trip requests ($13,600) and eight teacher aides who were scheduled to lose their jobs under Roser’s plan ($203,000).

What isn’t restored are the nine and a half full-time equivalency teaching positions Roser proposed cut, a figure he’s reduced from original calculations of 11.5 teachers after cutting more from programs. Before the board’s vote to exceed the property tax cap, he restored a technology teacher and one for business, who will both be teaching technology at the elementary level next year.

“The board and the administration takes our responsibilities to the community seriously, concerning our charge to educate students,” Roser said. “But when you become an administrator or a board of education member, you take your charge for taking care of your employees seriously, too. I’ve always felt strongly about the people we have here. None of this is easy.”

Lew-Port United Teachers President Kevin Jaruszewski, who publicly asked the board to consider exceeding the cap threshold to save jobs, said Tuesday’s action was “bittersweet.”

As a taxpayer in the district himself, he said he doesn’t want to see his taxes increase at all. But the district needs to have programs for students, which were quickly disappearing as Roser sliced his way through balancing out revenues and expenses.

“I said ‘Just put it out there, let the people decide,’” he said. “That being said, we need to educate the community on what this means. We need them to understand why this is happening. That’s a huge piece.”

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