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Board arms residents with budget info

The Skaneateles Board of Education invited district residents to a Budget Development Session on March 3, two months before similar public budget meetings are usually held.

Extraordinarily tough economic conditions led the board to "meet early with our residents to establish a dialogue," Superintendent Philip D'Angelo said as he welcomed residents.

"The purpose of this meeting is to inform residents of the impact of the state and federal economic crisis on our school district," he said. "Our district is facing state aid reductions and, therefore, we are looking to make reductions and reallocations in our budget."

In a PowerPoint presentation that is now available on the school Web site, skanschools.org, D'Angelo shared the state aid/revenue outlook as per the Gov. David Paterson's proposal, enrollment projections, past budget information, per pupil expenditures and possible expenditure reductions. Residents interested in reading more may visit the Web site. Once on the site, go to "documents," then choose "public documents" and then select "2009-2010 Budget Development Document."

School leaders have been heeding warnings from the state as they work to trim from a budget that is already lean. They've worked on four different scenarios as they will not know the actual distribution of funds until the week of March 23, D'Angelo said.

There is both good news and bad news in the board's long time frugal approach. The good news is Skaneateles has long worked to do "more with less," earning recognition as a top school district with below average per pupil expenditures, D'Angelo said.

The not-so-good news is that the lean budget doesn't leave any "easy" areas to cut.

The goal is to reduce expenditures without impacting programs, which may not be possible if the governor's more severe proposed cutbacks are accepted, he said.

The goal of administrators and board members in Skaneateles is to "protect our programs and the integrity of what we have created here, while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers," D'Angelo said.

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