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Skaneateles, Marcellus districts reviewing and reducing spending in budget crunch

Gov. David Paterson released his preliminary state budget last week, and for some local school districts it means cutting back even more than they already have.

According to Skaneateles Central School business manager Dale Bates, the district already runs on fairly bare bones budget.

"We can only go to the taxpayer for so much money," he said. "As a result we've had to be innovative. We haven't got a lot of fat spots in our budget that we can go carving things out of. Nor do we have huge reserves."

The reserves the district does have are for future building projects and to cover benefits for contracted personnel, among other things.

"They're not big numbers. Nowhere near the $861,000 we would have to cut to get our budget into balance if the governor's budget was enacted as it is," Bates said.

To ease the pain, he said, staff has been told to reduce spending as much as possible this year because next year they may be operating with little or no supplied equipment money.

"We did not want to create a lot of alarm until we knew exactly what we're going to do," Bates said.

Like schools around Central New York, Marcellus and Skaneateles districts are trying to prepare themselves as best as possible before the April 1 deadline for the state budget.

"We're taking a look at the big picture as I think all districts are," said Craig Tice, superintendent of Marcellus Central Schools.

Though the school does not have a firm budget for the coming school year, Tice said the district will be looking at its spending. In preparation for cuts in state aid, administrators put a freeze on spending regarding classroom supplies. However, all cuts and freezes done within the district are done on a "case by case basis," Tice said.

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