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School district gets 'healthy mix' at budget forum

PERU - The Peru Central School District asked for input, and they got it.

Superintendent A. Paul Scott said the first public forum discussing the district's proposed 2012-13 budget - held Feb. 14 - received "a healthy mix" of district residents and employees turning out to voice their opinions and hear from others.

"Overall, I would say it was evident to me that the challenges we're facing statewide and locally for the future of public education are on the minds of residents, employees, and certainly parents and students," said Scott.

Fourteen residents in total turned out for the forum, which was also the first meeting of the district's budget advisory committee for the year. Individuals from the towns of Ausable, Peru and Schuyler Falls, all from within the school district, sought more information about the potential budget cuts and how the district could respond to them.

"The key question was 'Do people agree the district should continue to provide 'strong programs' even if we have to operate even leaner next year and beyond,'" said Scott. "And, judging by what the 11 people who filled out and submitted a survey at the end of the forum, every one of the agreed it was important to do just that."

"So, whatever programs remain, they'll continue to be strong. We'll see to that," said Scott.

The district is now in the process of compiling the information from the forum, which includes individual suggestions for what areas offer the best value for students and what warrant further cost reduction or consideration for streamlining in the future, said Scott.

The superintendent said he anticipates even more public comment regarding the budget process when the board of education holds its next meeting, Tuesday, March 1, beginning at 6 p.m.

"We received about 100 suggestions last year," Scott said, referring to ways to balance last year's budget. "I'm anticipating that the school board, when it meets next, will have at least another 100 suggestions for further consideration in this budget year ahead."

The March 1 meeting will be held in the community room at PeruHigh School, 17 SchoolSt.

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