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NSCSD takes closer look at Main Street budget

The North Syracuse Central School District Board of Education held its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday March 1 at the District Administrative Offices. Because the districts proposed budget cuts will be on the March 8 agenda, the board focused on the North Syracuse Early Education Program that runs at Main Street.

For the 2010-11 district budget, the program is up 5.18 percent or $263,916 in added costs. The major increases are employee benefits, which are up 19.3 percent, or $264,513.

Wayne Bleau, NSCSD Assistant Superintendent for Management, presented calculations for the program's fund balance which he believes will be about $1,240 by June 30, 2011. If this were to be the case, then the district would be unable to continue the program, unless "cost reduction steps are taken," Bleau said, "a plan of action which has met resistance up to now."

One of the main concerns for the program surrounds the fact that there was no tuition increase this year and "there is speculation there will be no tuition rate increase for next year," Bleau said.

The state's tuition rate is also inadequate to the level of therapeutic services needed for children with significant developmental disabilities, according to Bleau's report. Lastly, the program's funding has a direct effect from the "growth factor," which is associated with staff salaries, health benefits, retirement, system costs and maintaining facilities.

After 2 percent of program aid is exceeded, Bleau said that Gov. David Paterson is advocating a plan that would force local school districts to assume any costs beyond the deemed percentage level for early education.

The program provided educational services to 156 children with moderate and severe disabilities, according to a report and letter that was sent to Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-North Syracuse). Of the 156 children, 127 reside in the NSCSD, while the remaining 19 percent of children reside in various Onondaga County school districts.

Stanley Finkle, NSCSD Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, will soon present proposed budget cuts to the Early Education Program for the Board of Education's consideration.

BOCES representative

The Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES Board has five members whose terms expire in June 30, one of which is Catherine Cifaratta-Brayton, member of the NSCSD Board of Education.

Cifraratta-Brayton expressed interest in serving the OCM BOCES Board again as the North Syracuse Schools' representative. The election is set for April 26.

For more budget information and coverage of the NSCSD, visit cnylink.com and search "North Syracuse Central School District."

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