Schroon board to re-work school budget

SCHROON LAKE-Members of the Schroon Lake Central School Board of Education are listening to the public and working with Interim Superintendent Gerald Blair to re-write the proposed 2011-12 spending plan, which was defeated by voters May 17.

The school board met May 19 with more than 60 people in the audience, according to Blair, who announced the district had found $39,000 more to work with in the budget. With a new $29,000 federal grant and a $10,000 savings by administering a speech teacher in-house, rather than going through BOCES, those funds can go toward restoring some of the board's staffing and program cuts.

Voters and school officials attributed the proposed budget's failure to cuts in popular programs, such as music, cheerleading and JV basketball.

An exit poll conducted by citizens confirmed these findings. About 76 percent of the 274 voters who responded to the poll said it was because of the proposed staff and program reductions, and about 18 percent said it was because the budget/taxes are too high.

On May 17, there were 190 yes and 269 no votes for the proposed budget, which totalled $7,352,379. That's an increase of $65,966 - 0.91 percent - from the current spending plan of $7,286,413. School board members were determined to keep the spending increase to a maximum of 1 percent.

The proposed tax levy for 2011-12 was $5,862,870. That's a $130,957 increase - 2.28 percent - from the present levy of $5,731,913.

The school board originally proposed major changes to personnel to help save money. They were planning on not filling three positions after retirements: a bus driver, a custodian and a secretary. They proposed cutting three positions by one day per week: an art teacher, the director of pupil personnel and an occupational therapist. And three positions were to be cut in half: the instrumental band teacher, the librarian, and the family and consumer sciences (home economics) teacher.

As of press time, it was unclear how the school board would adjust the spending plan and use the $39,000. They were set to meet again Thursday, May 26.

A public hearing will be held on the revised budget prior to the vote on June 21.

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