Schools Propose Cuts, Tax Increases in Budgets

April 4, 2011 Updated Apr 4, 2011 at 7:00 PM EDT

By John Borsa

April 4, 2011 Updated Apr 4, 2011 at 7:00 PM EDT

SLOAN, NY (WKBW) - After 29 years as a schools superintendent, James Mazgajewski has seen both good years and bad when it comes to budgets and taxes.

But none have been quite like this year.

"This one by far is the most difficult," said Mazgajewski, who heads the Cheektowaga-Sloan Central School District.

The district has lost $1.7 million in state and federal money for the 2011-2012 school year which means layoffs and cuts in programs will be necessary to balance the budget, Mazgajewski said.

"That would just keep us level," he said, adding that a tax increase of 13-19 percent will still be required to keep mandated programs funded.

"The average homeowner would -- at the high end -- be looking at over $300," Mazgajewski said.

At least ten full-time teachers, along with five aides, would be cut under a proposal that will go to the school board on April 19. Some athletic programs and extracurricular activities will also be on the chopping block.

In the Kenmore-Tonawanda School District, school board members will analyze three possible scenarios at a meeting on Tuesday night. One plan calls for a 6.89 percent property tax increase and the layoff of 100 staff members.

"We're trying to keep doing the things that we've been doing all along which is have a good five-year plan and make reductions as far from the classroom as you can," said Mark Mondanaro, superintendent at Ken-Ton. "But we're not able to do that in this budget."

West Seneca Central School District has had an approved budget since March 21. The plan doesn't require any reductions in staff and a 2.7 percent property tax increase.

West Seneca has been able to keep the impact of state aid reductions to a minimum because of actions taken in the past.

"60 employees have been eliminated through attrition during the past two years," said superintendent Mark Crawford.

That, along with other savings in transportation and union concessions, helped the district cut $5.2 million during the same time period, Crawford said.

West Seneca will use $7.5 million in reserves next year, otherwise layoffs may have been necessary.

School budgets will go to a public vote on May 22 throughout Western New York.