NORTH TONAWANDA, NY - School board members in North Tonawanda voted to restore modified sports, some jobs, and classes Tuesday night after unions made concessions to put money back into the budget.
About two-thirds of the $330,000 in restorations came from the teacher's union which gave up a part of its health benefits. That was enough to save five full-time teacher positions. The administrator's union also made sacrifices. Retirements helped funnel even more money into the budget.
The board also voted to restore remedial math and reading, as well as a part-time counselor position.
In February, the district faced a $5 million dollar budget shortfall with a 21-percent tax levy. Last night, they board finally got the levy down to 1.3-percent.
Even with the restorations, more than 50 jobs still had to be cut.
Teachers who lost their positions will be placed on a 7-year call back list and can possibly return to their jobs if future budgets allow.
Board members spent all but $700 that was restored. That excess will be rolled over to next year.
The district is facing a $2 million dollar budget gap for next year when stimulus funds expire, but board members don't anticipate as many cuts as this year.
Just last month, sixth graders in the North Tonawanda school system's Gifted and Talented program took first place in a statewide environmental competition.
Tuesday night, school officials were forced to cut the program by one day a week and eliminate kindergarten and first graders -- making it available to grades 2-6 only. However, officials were able to restore $80,000 to the program.
"It's programs that districts have grown and valued and nurtured. They're not mandated, but the state doesn't give us any relief from other programs and when we have to take these ones away it hits home," said School Superintendent Greg Woytila.