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January 23, 2013

Town moves ahead in budget process

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — NEWFANE –– It’s January, but the Newfane School District is already making a number of budget cuts. 

In its current form, Newfane’s 2013-14 budget is a $33.6 million spending plan, an increase of $680,000 or 2 percent in spending compared to the 2012-13 budget.

Tibbetts said $981,000 in cuts have been made since the last meeting on Jan. 5. Already over $1.5 million in total has been made in reductions. But there is more work to do on the budget.

“There is still a long way to go, we have some tough decisions to make,” the superintendent said. “We’ve done everything we can do, now the hard work begins.”

The district would see a 2.71 percent, or $440,000, increase in state aid, under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget. Newfane is slated to receive $16.3 million in aid for 2012-13, the current school year.

While that’s only a projection — state lawmakers have until April 1 to pass a budget — Superintendent Christine J. Tibbetts said the district will use that number in budget planning. Typically if a state aid projection changes, lawmakers add to the governor’s number.

At Tuesday’s meeting, board members went through sections of the budget with Tibbetts. Tibbetts said she pulled out a number of budget requests, except for a part-time counselor position at Newfane Elementary School. There is a psychologist at the school who has been filling both roles, which is becoming time consuming for her, Tibbetts said.

“It is truly needed,” she said. “We are grappling with situations where the psychologist is acting in more of a counselor role.”

Tibbetts said the budget also reflects the restoration of a teaching position. The position, a remedial math teacher for the elementary and middle schools, replaces two remedial math teachers. It’s something the district started doing this year, as the board created the position in December.

“We’re going to continue with that,” Tibbetts said.

What’s unknown at this point is the district’s tax levy cap, as officials are waiting for information from the state. Also, the district does not know what its Orleans/Niagara BOCES costs will be yet.

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