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Warrensburg Central faces new budget squeeze

WARRENSBURG - Warrensburg School District taxpayers could be facing a substantial tax increase this year, if the Warrensburg School Board members don't figure out how they can cut hundreds of thousands of dollars from the 2010-2011 spending plan.

Facing a proposed cut in state aid of $605,000 and about $100,000 less in federal aid due to non-recurring stimulus money, school board members will be grappling with a $705,000 deficit, school officials estimated Monday.

This deficit could translate to a 14.7 percent increase in taxes if Gov. Paterson's proposed education aid proposals are enacted, Warrensburg Superintendent of Schools Tim Lawson said.

He said that either instructional wages need to be reduced, or staff cutbacks are likely.

For the past two years, school budgets have been a lightning rod of controversy, as property owners have demanded no further increases in taxation, yet many community members have voiced strong objections to cuts in staff and programs. The outcry from the public saved a considerable number of the latter.

Over these years, the local teachers' union has stood fast on their wage increases and has declined to negotiate.

The result was the elimination of several staff positions and school programs, including driver's ed, gifted and talented offerings and some advanced study opportunities.

"We'll have to be looking at employees salaries, and evaluating programs now," Lawson said. "It's likely we'll be reducing staff or eliminating certain programs."

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