CLARENCE, N.Y. (WIVB) - Thousands of students are heading back to school Wednesday morning, in more than a dozen districts. One of the bigger districts starting Wednesday is Clarence. This year students and teachers are dealing with major cuts in programs and extracurricular activities.
It took two votes for the budget to pass in Clarence and there are still bad feelings on both sides. Voters first rejected a proposed 9.8 percent tax increase and then approved a spending plan just under the tax cap.
Keep Clarence School Great’s Brendan Biddlecom said, “But that resulted in close to 60 additional staff cuts, countless extra curricular programs cut, substantial increases in class sizes.”
The good news for students is many of the extracurricular activities have been restored by a fundraising committee that has spent the summer gathering additional funds to reinstate modified and freshman sports, as well as many clubs. The group gave the school board a check for $39,000 in August, that helped keep four clubs and all fall modified and freshman sports that had been cut.
Clarence Schools Enrichment Foundation’s Drew Cerza said, “We actually have enough to restore 10 more clubs and we're going to turn that over to board at the meeting on September 16th. We have different windows to raise money by, based on the sports season. We have the winter sports as well as the spring sports to take care of as well as a lot of clubs.”
Now that the school year is starting, taxpayers in Clarence can move on from the budget battle that seemed to split the community just months ago.
Biddlecom said, “What we need to do is work to stop the bleeding, help people understand that Clarence has been a historically low taxed school district and it remains a very low taxed school district. We get a tremendous bang for the buck here.”
Most sports and clubs look like they will go on in Clarence. However, what may take some time to pan out is how losing nearly 60 positions in the district will affect how the schools will run.
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