Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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April 21, 2014

Contingent budget would keep levy flat

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Close to $800,000 more would have to be cut from the Lockport City School District’s 2014-15 budget, if the district were to go to a contingency budget.

On May 20, district voters will consider an $86.3 million budget, a spending plan that is roughly $3.2 million more than the current school year and raises the tax levy by the district’s cap of 2.26 percent, or $797,503 to just over $36 million. Assuming assessments and equalization rates remain the same, the levy would cause the tax rate to increase by 57 cents per $1,000 of assessed land value.

If a budget is voted down, boards of education have two options. They can put another budget up for a vote in June, or go straight to a contingency budget.

But if that new budget goes down in June, then a school district must go to a contingency budget, as per state law.

A contingency budget would keep the tax levy flat, keeping the levy at whatever level it is for the current school year. Also, under a contingency budget, schools could not spend money on equipment or student supplies and any group using a district building or property would be charged a fee.

For Lockport, school officials would have to cut out the levy increase, knocking it down to its current $35.2 million level. And eliminating equipment and supplies expenses would trim $337,717 from the $797,503 that would have to be cut from the budget.

The remaining $459,786 would be found in a few possible ways, district officials said.

Deborah Coder, assistant superintendent for finance, told Board of Education members last month under a contingent budget the district would look at going to half-day kindergarten, reducing librarians and support staff positions.

The proposed budget already features 11 less positions, six of which are retirements that will not be replaced and five layoffs. Two teachers and three speech language pathologists will be laid off. 

Cuts in extra-curricular activities and intramural sports may be possible as well, Coder said. 

The Lockport district went through a contingency budget for the 2010-11 school year.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

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