Tupper school to shrink budget, raise taxes amid state cuts

The Tupper Lake Central School District Board of Education is poised to pass a budget that increases the tax levy by 4.4 percent, even after eliminating a key position and cutting costs.

Superintendent Seth McGowan and other existing staff will absorb the duties of its retiring middle and high school principal, saving the district about $130,000.

That, plus other belt-tightening measures including reductions in clerical staff, will trim the school's budget more than 2.5 percent - the first time the district has reduced its budget in more than a decade, according to McGowan.

Even with these drastic measures, the school will have to increase taxes because the state cut its aid to the school by nearly $210,000.

Expenses such as employee benefits also increased, leaving the school to foot the bill for an extra $300,000, an amount that would come out of taxpayers' pockets.

McGowan outlined a plan during a school board meeting on Wednesday in which he would become the middle and high school principal in addition to his regular duties as district superintendent.

McGowan would also enlist the help of key staff to pull it off.

L.P. Quinn Principal Carolyn Merrihew and Special Programs Director Carol Wight will help with discipline, administrative support and other duties.

The three staff members will form an administrative core supported by other key staff, including the school's grant writer, athletic director and two guidance counselors.

School board member Dan Mansfield seemed to strike a cord with other board members when he said he supported the plan with conditions.

He called McGowan's plan "innovative and outside the box" but said he wanted to be sure that existing staff was not overburdened and that a principal could be hired back if the board deemed it necessary at a later date.

McGowan said funds would be set aside for that purpose, just in case.

The school board will vote on the final budget by April 25 and a public hearing on the budget will be held on May 9.

The public will vote on the budget on May 17.

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