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Shared services vital to schools

— A year ago, the district attempted to share buildings and grounds services, but Cringle said that endeavor proved too ambitious for one individual.

Sharing a payroll clerk with Peru has been a healthy relationship, he said.

Saranac also partners with Plattsburgh City Schools by sharing a consultant for teacher evaluations.

School districts across the country that received Race to the Top funding must adopt tougher standards for teacher and principal evaluations. Federal grant money covers some of the cost, but ultimately, it has become an unfunded mandate for school districts.

Cringle said sharing a consultant with Plattsburgh City School will be cost effective and produce a better product.

Saranac Central School is considering further mergers, including sharing a business administrator with a neighboring district to complete internal audits.

Cringle predicts another tough budget year that will result in soaring costs and dwindling revenues.

Saranac faced a $3.8-million budget deficit due to escalating costs and a $2.1 million state-aid shortfall as it began crafting its spending plan last year. The district had planned to eliminate more than a dozen positions and make program cuts until the faculty volunteered significant financial concessions that totaled more than $500,000.

But costs continue to rise and schools know the state doesn’t have enough funds in its coffers to remedy looming budget deficits.

“More and more schools and local governments are looking to share services as a way to control or even cut costs,” said Sen. Betty Little. “These types of agreements and collaborations have existed for years. However, financial pressure is affecting everyone as the economy continues to struggle so we’re seeing more of an interest in sharing services.”

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