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West Genesee school board adopts budget

The West Genesee school board voted Wednesday night to adopt a $68,326,530 budget for 2011-12 that includes a tax rate increase of 4.8 percent, 53 employee lay-offs, and cuts to programming in all areas.

"I don't feel good about it, but I feel that it was the right thing to do considering the economic conditions that are out there," said West Genesee Superintendent Chris Brown.

Two days later, following, news that the state Legislature would restore substantial state aid to schools, the district chose to use incoming funds to bring the tax levy increase down to 3.8 percent.

"The little that will remain will go into our reserves to begin to build our budget for next year," Brown said. The budget as it was adopted Wednesday used $2.3 million of its $4.4 million in available reserves.

This district will not bring any employees back as a result of the restored aid. Brown said that from listening to Gov. Cuomo speak, he expects future budgets to pose challenges for West Genesee.

"He's still very much after the [2 percent] tax cap," Brown said, adding: "I think if you bring something back, you're just going to end up cutting it again next year. We just need respond to the conditions out there, take a leadership role and make do with what we have."

The 2011-12 spending plan is about $1.6 million less than the current year's $69,938,455 budget. The district's proposal includes 53 employee lay-offs for next year and deep cuts to programming in order to close a gap originally estimated at $5.63 million.

"I don't feel good about it, but I feel that it was the right thing to do considering the economic conditions that are out there," Brown said.

In February, employees district-wide voted to freeze their salary for the coming fiscal year, which saved $900,000 and well over 100 positions, Brown said.

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