School districts expecting severe budget shortfalls

Superintendent of Schools Ray Ciccarelli noted that school officials had a head start on budget trimming, because beginning in 2008 they had prepared a long-term plan which included pruning expenses in light of declining enrollment.

According to plan, the ongoing process of reducing teaching positions - which is primarily based on attrition - is expected to continue this year. In addition to attrition, school officials are eyeing the elimination of one position in a special subject area - likely to save about $50,000 - and the teacher's responsibilities will likely be reassigned to others.

"We are trying hard not to use our reserves to make up the shortfall," Ciccarelli said.

No. Warren to mull cuts

North Warren Business Manager Mary Lou Carstensen said this week her district's school board would be meeting in a budget workshop March 16 to hear about suggested cuts from leaders of various departments in the school system.

"At this point, we have to assume we will be cut $587,000," she said. "If the State Aid cuts aren't reduced in the governor's budget, area districts will be facing huge budget gaps."

Challenges at Lake George

Lake George is facing a far smaller cut than North Warren, due to Lake George's revenue from commercial and resort properties and pricey lakefront developments.

Although Lake George's proposed cut in State Aid is small in proportion to the district's overall budget, Superintendent of Schools Patrick Dee said that the financial squeeze still posed a substantial challenge.

Initial budget hearings were scheduled to start this week, he said.

"It's no longer the status quo, and clearly we need to look at all aspects of the school budget," Dee said. "We need to be fiscally responsible to our taxpayers."

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