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Save Our Schools to meet May 13 in Minerva

— Concerned parents and community members are looking for ways to help “Save Our School,” here.

A crowd of 19 Minerva citizens gathered at the Minerva Town Hall on Tuesday, April 29 to find out information and ask questions concerning the upcoming Minerva School District budget vote, set for May 20.

Facilitated by Tom Savarie and Mindy Piper, both parents of Minerva Central School students, the forum was a chance for people to gather clear and accurate information about the budget, which was recently adopted by the Board of Education.

The group hosting this forum, Save our Schools (SOS), is a small group representing district taxpayers, including parents, non-parents, and retirees.

The district is currently facing a substantial budget deficit for the upcoming 2014-2015 budget year. The budget gap is now at $551,817 because of the additional funding (about $33,000) that was included in the final state budget.

The school is planning various cuts to staffing, the use of more of the district’s fund balance and changes in the school lunch and special education programs. Because of the loss of state funding due to the continued implementation of the state’s Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA (through which the school has lost over $850,000 during the past several years), the board adopted budget includes a tax levy increase which will be over the district’s tax levy cap of 2.74 percent.

The forum stimulated lots of ideas and prompted attendees to ask questions. A general feeling among the folks who were present as well as the SOS group was that Minerva Central School is a good school that must be saved, and that if the school was lost, it would be a major blow to the Town.

Several suggestions were made about how to get the word out concerning the need to provide factual information to the public and encourage folks to turn out for the May 20 vote. These included working on making sure absentee ballots are distributed and submitted, getting out into the community and ensuring that parents of students are aware of the vote’s importance.

“Many parents just assume that things are okay at the school, and their vote is not needed and that’s why they often don’t vote,” resident Fran Paradis said.

“If you care about your school and community, get out and vote,” Savarie said.

The next SOS forum is scheduled for May 13, 1 p.m., at the Minerva Town Hall. For more information about the group, e-mail sosminerva@gmail.com.

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