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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.

— When the district can’t fund mandates, school officials have to limit the number of students they can serve. For example, Bower said, they have 15 students on a waiting list because the district doesn’t have the additional state funding for Universal Pre-K that it needs to bring in more students. The funding level has remained steady at $137,000 a year for the program since it started in 1998.

Another mandate this year comes from the federal government and will affect students in the lunch room. Ruth Pino recently spoke to the School Board to brief board members on food service for the upcoming year.

“There’s new federal requirements for nutrition guidelines, so we’re fully ready to implement those,” Bower said. “The menu choices are complicated, but Ruth has really done a nice job preparing our district to meet the qualifications for the new food program ... The government’s requiring more fruits, vegetables and legumes, so they’ll see new menus.”

Portion sizes will also be different.

“But Ruth has come up with a plan to make sure that students that want larger portions will still be able to get those,” Bower said.

If there’s one theme at the Saranac Lake schools this year, Bower said it would be “preserve and protect what we have” or “preserving programs with shrinking resources.”

“Everything’s getting tighter,” Bower said. “We don’t want to give up programs that everbody’s proud of here, so we’ll find ways to keep them.”

One way to deal with finances is to share resources with neighboring school districts. For example, the Saranac Lake and Lake Placid school boards will meet Wednesday, Sept. 5 at the Petrova Middle School to discuss the possibility of sharing a new school superintendent. Each district must hire a superintendent by the end of the year, when Saranac Lake’s Gerald Goldman and Lake Placid’s Randy Richards will be leaving their jobs.

Photo: Dan Bower

Saranac Lake Central School Assistant Superintendent for Business Dan Bower talks gives a budget presentation to the School Board in February at the Petrova School library.

Photo by Andy Flynn

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