LAKEGEORGE -Following a trouncing at the polls last week and a contentious public meeting held Monday, May 23, the Lake George Central Board of Education has decided to trim its proposed 2011-12 budget of $20.5 million by about $192,000 and resubmit it to the voters in late June.
The board decided to make these further cuts to reach the amount of spending equal to a state-mandated contingency budget that would be imposed if the voters reject the spending plan again like they did Tuesday May 17 by a gaping and unprecedented 389-911 margin.
After a number of residents urged the board to cut spending in a public meeting May 23, the board convened at 7 a.m. Tuesday May 24 - a time that irked some audience members - and identified areas of the budget likely to undergo cuts.
Although several local residents urged the board to negotiate with the school faculty to accept a temporary reduction in raises or to boost their contribution to their health insurance premiums, the board decided to examine cuts elsewhere: spending on athletics, technology equipment, teaching assistants, summer school staff, classroom supplies, student organizations, and by reassigning an elementary school teacher.
The revised budget, after being reformulated by the school administration, will be presented to the public at 7 p.m. June 7, Superintendent of Schools Patrick Dee said, noting that a public vote on the revised budget is likely to be held June 21.
Members of the audience repeatedly asked the board to lobby teachers to forgo contracted raises or their annual "step" pay increase, or increase their contribution to health care costs upward from 8 percent.
Such cuts would represent $500,000 or more savings to taxpayers, they said, citing that pay raises and benefits in the private sector weren't as generous, particularly considering the state of the economy.