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School district taxpayers asked to weigh in on budget concern

PERU - Peru Central School District superintendent A. Paul Scott is among those concerned with what Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's proposed executive budget will mean for education funding.

According to preliminary figures, Scott said the proposed reduction in state aid funding for Peru Central would amount to $2.6 million for the 2011-12 school year. The bulk of the reduction would be felt in the school district's general operating aid fund.

"This proposed set of reductions would be the largest in the history of New York State," said Scott. "It's certainly the case that business as usual will not be going on as usual in the years ahead, given the scope of revenue reductions that rural schools are anticipating."

That has led the school district administration and school district's budget advisory committee to host a public forum that will "actively engage district residents by soliciting ideas and perceptions regarding school finances, cost reductions, forecasted impacts of the governor's executive budget proposal and key budget factors" the district should keep in mind when constructing its own 2011-12 budget, said Scott.

The forum - originally scheduled for Jan. 24 but postponed due to inclement weather - will be held Monday, Feb. 14, in the community room at Peru High School. The meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m., will be the first in a series of public forums about next year's school budget and the continuation of a process that seeks input from taxpayers, said Scott.

"We had some pretty dynamic conversations last year and the board received over 100 suggestions via the public forums and people that submitted ideas between one forum and the next," said Scott, adding many suggestions were put into practice during the school year. "There was much listening last year. I forecast this will be another season for listening."

Regardless of the outcome of the governor's budget proposal, Scott said he's confident the same standard of education will be provided for students - it may just be with less resources.

"New York has a strong history of providing programs for its children in terms of public schooling. That'll continue," he said. "How it's done, will be in the balance."

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