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Niagara Falls School District spending projections increase

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Buffalo: Niagara Falls School District spending projections increase
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The Niagara Falls City School District may have a difficult year ahead in balancing its budget. As YNN's Antoinette DelBel reports, increases in spending could lead to teacher cuts, but the district says that's something they're trying to avoid.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — Heading into the next school year, the Niagara Falls City School District may face some tough budget choices.

Thursday night, the district released its spending projections for the 2013-14 school year to the school board.

The district's business administrator says the biggest increase would be to the teachers' retirement system contribution rates if the governor's proposed pension reform does not pass.

"The projected rate is increasing from 11.84 percent to 16.25 percent," said Timothy Hyland, Niagara Falls City School District Business Administrator. "That's going to cost our district an estimated just-under-$2.1 million."

Hyland says the pension reform, which includes leveling the rates, would reduce the financial burden on the district next year. However, without the reform, he says the district would have to make teacher and program cuts to offset the $2 million increase in pension costs.

"We would have no choice but to look at personnel reductions and program changes and things of that nature, which we really don't want to do," Hyland said.

According to the district, cuts would be the worst case scenario. A school board member says, while it's good to talk about the projections, it's too soon to make any final decisions.

"We talk to the public. We show the numbers that we're talking about and break down the numbers. They could change and there could be more money coming from Albany and more money from Washington," said Don King, Niagara Falls Board of Education member.

King says one thing that most likely won't change is the school tax rate. He says the board is committed to not raising taxes.

"We've held our hat up high that we haven't had to raise taxes. Fortunately, the state has helped us, so that we didn't have to deplete our programs."

Residents in the district will vote on a final budget on May 21st.

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