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Ti school declares spending freeze

TICONDEROGA - Bracing for a possible loss of state aid, the Ticonderoga Central School District has declared a freeze on non-essential spending.

"The spending freeze means we are holding on all purchase orders, out-of-district field trips and any other non-day-to-day operation purchases," Superintendent John McDonald said. "We are doing this as a precautionary measure until we know for sure if there will be mid-year budget cuts as proposed by the governor. We should know more in January. "

Gov. David Paterson has proposed state aid cuts as a way of closing a $1.5 billion deficit in the current state budget. Paterson wants to save $800 million by reducing aid increases to local school districts.

Paterson presented his recommendations to the state legislature prior to Thanksgiving.

If the state legislature opts against the governor's recommendation, the spending freeze is still a good idea, McDonald said.

"Even if there are no cuts, any funds we can preserve for this year will help in next year's budget," the Ti superintendent said.

The Ticonderoga Central School District budget totals $16.6 million for the 2008-09 academic year.

The amount raised by local tax is $8,943,869.

In creating the budget school officials were forced to eliminate five staff positions.

While the district faces rising costs, it's getting little help, McDonald said. State aid for the Ti district is up 1 percent from a year ago and federal aid is down. Also, district investments are flat because of a weak national economy.

To help offset those factors, the district cut $319,117 from its initial budget projection last spring.

Most of that money, $191,947, came from the elimination of a teaching position, 1.5 library positions, two aide positions and a half-time teaching assistant position.

Other cuts in the 2008-09 budget include $35,000 for the modified B sports program and athletic transportation; $53,000 set aside for the purchase of a van and a maintenance truck; $25,000 for building repairs; and $14,170 for middle school summer classes and board of education conferences.

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