Board approves LP school budget

The Lake Placid Central School District Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday night to approve a $16.5 million budget for 2011-2012.

The budget increased by 3.58 percent from last year and the tax levy will increase by just over 4 percent. Declining real estate assessments will result in a larger tax rate in the district.

In earlier stages of the budget process, the district was looking to cut as many as seven of its 117 staff members. In the final budget, four positions were cut: a special education teacher; two teaching assistant positions; and a clerical position.

The lay-offs save the district about $110,000.

Carol Baker, the special education teacher who was laid off, spoke after the vote. She appealed to the board to reconsider its decision.

"Honestly, I'm uncertain what the basis was for eliminating my position," Baker said.

In past meetings, board members cited a consultant that recommended trimming some staff, including a special education teacher, in order to save the school money. The school spent about $300,000 from a reserve fund of just under $1 million to help keep its remaining staff employed.

Tom Dodd, a technology teacher at the school and the district's union representative, complained about being moved to a similar position in the elementary school.

His job at the middle/high school can be done cheaper by BOCES, according to Superintendent Randy Richards. They'll also hire someone part time to take over Dodd's role as the school's IT worker.

Patty Gallagher, a parent who has been vocal during the budget process, asked why the board's previous budget eliminated the assistant principal and a part-time librarian only to add the positions back in for next year.

"Things have changed in a year," school board President Phil Baumbach responded. He suggested that the assistant principal would help tackle ongoing disciplinary issues in the school.

The librarian was added back because of an unanticipated give back in state aid, Baumbach said. The school was expecting a reduction of $220,500 in state aid, but the final budget added back $69,677.

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