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Twice? No dice

Philip Ostrom of Lake George, who had participated in a series of budget meetings, said the Lake George school board had not responded to the public's concern over increased spending during economically challenging times.

"There are senior citizens who have not had a raise in two years, a lot of people are out of work and hurting, and we cannot sustain these constant budget increases while the school district's enrollment is dropping," Ostrom said.

He and others said the key to controlling spending is taking a hard line in negotiating with teachers on the issues of salaries and benefits, which represent more than 70 percent of district spending, he said.

Peter Brothers, from the east side, noted that state employees pay 35 percent of the cost of their family-plan health insurance premiums of $17,500, while school district employees pay 8 percent or less of their annual family-plan premium of $21,800. Raising the percentage minimally could save the district taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.

Diane Matthews of the LGHALT group, said Tuesday night that the statewide teachers union had sponsored a recent district-wide mailing of postcards urging support for the budget.

"Its a relief that the voting process is over, and the community voice has been heard," she said. "There's been a definite problem in the lack of open dialogue between the school board and the community, and we're looking forward to changing this."

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