Following rejection of the Buena Regional School District budget, the Buena Vista Township Committee and the Buena Borough Council sent the Board of Education its budget back with a list of additional cuts.

In separate meetings, held one after the other in their respective municipal buildings, both the township and the borough approved a list of $324,000 in additional cuts they would like to see made.

The back-to-back meetings were attended by district Superintendent Walt Whitaker and some school board members.

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The approximately $39 million spending plan and its proposed $11 million tax levy was trimmed by more than $2 million before it went to a public vote, where it was defeated in both the township and the borough during April's elections.

Before the budget vote, the district made a slew of cuts, including 21 full-time positions and two part-time positions. Among the full-time positions eliminated were 14 teaching jobs.

Buena's school board decided to forgo an appeal and approved the additional cuts during its meeting Tuesday night.

Rejecting school budgets has become an annual tradition in the two communities. For the past two years, the proposed budgets have included either no tax increase or a significant tax decrease for the two municipalities, but were defeated by voters.

In each of those instances, the municipal governments approved the budgets without asking for cuts.

"It's a difficult point of conversation because the elected officials represent the interests of the community. The last two years there was a smaller voter turnout and no tax increase so (the municipalities) let us prevail," Whitaker said. "It's not a good time."

Buena Vista Township Mayor Chuck Chiarello said rejection of the past few budgets has been the result of voter anger. The district has been able to avoid tax increases by getting additional state aid, although state cuts eliminated that prospect this year.

The cuts asked for by the township and the borough were difficult, he said, especially considering they may cost the jobs of area residents.

"We had to take into account that there is concern out there right now because of rising budget costs and we needed to do something that was significant but would not harm the classroom," he said.

The two municipalities had the ability to cut as much as $1.3 million from the budget, but settled on the $324,000.

Contact Edward Van Embden:


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