West Genesee voters approve school budget, elect three board members

West Genesee voters approved a $68,326,530 budget yesterday by a vote of 2,061-695.

The spending plan includes a tax rate increase of 3.8 percent, 53 employee lay-offs and deep cuts to programming to account for sharp decreases in state aid and increases in health care and retirement costs. The 2011-12 plan is about $1.6 million less than that of the current year.

In February, employees district-wide voted to freeze their salary for the coming fiscal year, which saved $900,000 and well over 100 positions, said Superintendent Chris Brown. The cooperation led to national media attention for West Genesee on CNN and in the New York Times.

"We are very appreciative that all of our employees collaborated on a budget plan that helped our community to strongly support our budget plan and opportunities for children," Brown said. "This group effort shows what a community can do during times of challenge and adversity and I am very proud to be a part of something this special. Thanks again to the community for their continued support; it is very much appreciated."

Deb Simon (1,751 votes), newcomer Neil Widrick (1,715) and David Paczkowski (1,712) will fill the three open spots on the board. Vladmiro Hart-Zavoli came in fourth with 1,225 votes.

"Board members have a very challenging job considering the changes that seem to be coming from all directions," Brown said. "Mrs. Simon and Mr. Paczkowski have been on the board through these difficult times and Mr. Widrick, our newest board member, has been in attendance at nearly all of our meetings and will be able to take his seat and immediately have an impact."

Residents also approved propositions to purchase eight school buses for 2011-12 at a price not to exceed $864,610 (1,739-997) and for the district to collect a tax totaling $288,000 in order to provide support for Maxwell, Fairmount and Onondaga libraries (1,799-898).

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