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LP school budget plan scrutinized at public hearing

The Lake Placid Central School District hosted a public hearing Tuesday night on its proposed budget for 2011-2012, a spending plan that carries a 4 percent tax levy increase.

The district was once again forced to reign in spending and raise taxes in the face of rising costs and falling state aid and school enrollments.

The proposed school budget is $16.5 million, an increase of 3.6 percent over the current budget. School administrators cited rising costs for fuel, employee health insurance, and retirement benefits that they predict will add another half a million dollars to the budget next year.

They also noted that the school would experience a marked decline in state aid of more than $180,000 and a loss of federal stimulus funds of more than $400,000.

In response, the school plans to cut a number of staff positions, including a Special Education teacher, a home and careers teacher, a science teacher, a teacher's assistant and an administrative assistant. Some of these positions would be partially refilled by part-time employees and a fulltime assistant principal would be added.

The school's curriculum would also be consolidated, eliminating some elective courses including a program that spreads science courses over a two-year period in order to help slower learners.

But even with all these painful concessions, district Superintendent Randy Richards called the budget proposal a good compromise between offering students a first rate education and keeping taxes in check.

"An ideal budget would have about a million dollars more for things our district needs, but it's the best we can do given the circumstances," Richards said.

He pointed out that if the school had not made any changes to its current spending plan, the district tax levy increase would be more than 7 percent - an amount the school board said would not be acceptable.

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