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Saranac Lake schools ready for new year

Saranac Lake Central School was ranked second in the Plattsburgh Region by the Business First newspaper out of Buffalo. Westport was third, followed by Lake Placid.

Saranac Lake Central School was ranked second in the Plattsburgh Region by the Business First newspaper out of Buffalo. Westport was third, followed by Lake Placid. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— The Saranac Lake Central School District is dealing with state mandates this school year along with the other Tri-Lakes districts and will incur extra costs attached to these directives, according to school officials.

SLCS Assistant Superintendent for Business Dan Bower said the district is putting in place several state mandates this year, including the Dignity for All Students Act, the Common Core standards, and the state’s new Annual Professional Performance Review Law (teacher evaluations).

“They create extra work and dollars for us to implement, but obviously we’re going to do those. They’re mandates,” Bower said. “It’s hard implementing them all at once both from a financial (standpoint) and just having the resources to get them up and running. To do them right, they take time and planning, and unfortunately, we’re on the state’s timeframe on those things.”

One major mandate is the APPR, and administrators have been negotiating with teachers on the new teacher evaluation guidelines.

“That’s obviously new for all of us, but we’re ready to move forward and meet those requirements,” Bower said.

Each district must have its own APPR plan approved by the state.

When it comes time to shape the budget, the district will see the monetary effects of these mandates. And the federal Race to the Top funds — $54,000 over three years — is not enough to help with the APPR mandates.

“It doesn’t come even close to covering the expense that it’s going to cost us to implement that,” Bower said.

Bower said he hasn’t crunched the numbers yet, but he can see the costs coming close to what Lake Placid Central School District Superintendent Randy Richards says it will cost his district: $400,000-$500,000. Bower said he could see the mandates costing the Saranac Lake district between $300,000 and $400,000.

“I talk to the legislators every chance I get about mandate relief,” Bower said.

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