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Clarence Schools Debate Budget Cuts



(WBEN) After a contentious vote on the Clarence School Budget , and a similarly heated public hearing on Monday night, leaders of both a group focused on low taxes and a parent's group concentrating on preserving programs now say they want the budget to pass next week in a re-vote.

The Clarence School District had put forth a 9.8 percent property tax in their initial budget that voters rejected, and responded with a more modest 3.7 percent proposal which voters will judge on June 18.

The current Clarence  plan calls for more than 30 teaching positions to be eliminated, 20 administrators cut, and elimination of a range of extra curricular programs including show choir, stage band and art club.

"I wish we could have some of these discussions months ago," says Brendan Biddlecom, of Keep Clarence Schools Great.


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Brendan Biddlecom & Lisa Thrun

 
"It's sad that it has come to this, that we had to lose so much and that we ended up getting to this point, but here we are and we move forward," says Biddlecom who urges residents to pass the budget and adds that another  failure would cut even more.

Adds Lisa Thrun, with the taxpayers group Americans for Prosperity: "We certainly want to see long term solutions for the future but we can start by bridging gap with minimal  impact on the children by passing this budget. Then we have to roll up our sleeves and work really hard as a community. That means everyone, the teachers, the administrators, even the town board and the citizens, so we can find a long term solution, and I think that can happen now ." 

Thursday's budget vote includes a tax hike that is beneath the state's property tax cap ceiling and as such only requires a simple majority to pass.  The earlier vote needed a 60 percent vote but failed with  58 percent against and 42 percent in favor. 

Voters in six Western New York school districts rejected  tax hikes in district budget proposals last month. .  Of the top five tax hikes proposed by school districts in Western New York, only one of them was approved

The three highest tax hikes proposed by Niagara County districts- Niagara Wheatfield, Lewiston-Porter, and Wilson--  were also rejected,  along with budgets in Alden in Erie County, and Bemus Point in Chautauqua County.

 Of them, perhaps Clarence was the highest profile and most contentious, with voter education campaigns, lawn signs and phone calls usually reserved for much larger elections.

All other districts in the region passed their budgets.

School
District
Proposed 
Tax
Hike
Proposed Spending
Increase/ *(Decrease)
No
Votes
Yes
Votes
Clarence 9.8 % 1.08 % 4,801 3.431
Niagara Wheatfield 5.91 3.69 % 1,601 1,598
Bemus Point 5.67 % 5.17 % 227 215
Lewiston Porter 5.52 % -1.16 %* 1,153 939
Wilson 4 % 3.49 % 698 414
Alden 3 % 3.56 743 495



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