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Roundtable aids with budget process

Constituents gather to provide insight to Plattsburgh Schools

Participants and school board members read the thoughts and ideas posted on the wall of those who gathered for Plattsburgh City School’s Stakeholders’ Roundtable Budget Forum.

Participants and school board members read the thoughts and ideas posted on the wall of those who gathered for Plattsburgh City School’s Stakeholders’ Roundtable Budget Forum. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.

— The group did not gather to come to a consensus.

Nor was it formed to launch into an intense debate.

“We want to make sure at each table everybody has a fair chance to say your piece,” said Plattsburgh City School Superintendent James “Jake” Short. “We want to make sure one person doesn’t dominate over another.”

More than 60 people gathered on Jan. 25 at the Duken administrative building as part of the district’s Stakeholders’ Roundtable Budget Forum. The new outreach process was designed to provide school officials with insight into community sentiment as the school board navigates a challenging budget process.

School officials have had a tough time creating budgets for the past few years as state aid shrinks and expenses soar. Many districts have cut programs and laid off staff, and educators at some have done without raises to salvage their education programs.

This budget season is expected to be one of the toughest yet as districts have depleted fund balance and will likely have no choice but to make further painful cuts.

Plattsburgh City Schools wants community input before the school board votes on a 2012-13 spending plan.

The Roundtable Budget Forum targeted a cross-section of the district’s varied constituents.

At the forum, participants were seated in small groups and asked to reflect on school data they had read. They were further asked to discuss a series of general questions that were intended to yield information about community wants and constraints.

“You are going to see a lot of common interests, and a lot of different points of view,” Short said during the event. “That is healthy.

“The board will have access to look at the information so they can have your thoughts and voices in their minds when they are making the decisions they are elected to do.”

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