VENTNOR - The local Board of School Estimate approved a city school budget Thursday that would raise the tax rate by 2.44 cents, lay off several teachers and staff and cut busing for students who live within two miles of the school.

The $21.2 million budget approved by the board was identical to the one approved by the municipal Board of Education on Wednesday night, which uses $17.1 million in local taxes, $1.7 million in state aid and $579,391 in surplus

The board approved it 4-1, with city Commissioner Stephen Weintrob voting against the measure.

Weintrob said in an interview afterward it was unfair for teachers to not agree to some wage concessions to save other jobs, especially since the contract calls for 4.75 percent raises. He pointed to municipal Public Works employees who agreed to give up clothing allowances, overtime and other issues this year.

He also said he was considering starting a petition to replace the appointed school board with an elected one.

Superintendent Carmine Bonanni said afterward an incredible amount of work had gone into the budget. "The downside was that very valued employees won't be back with us next year," something he called "a tragedy of the economic circumstances in which we are all engaged."

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