Challenging times require thoughtful decisions

On Feb. 1, Governor Andrew Cuomo presented his budget proposal for the 2011-2012 school year. We are in the process of reviewing the Governor's budget proposal, analyzing the impact, consulting with stakeholders and formulating our plans to address the economic challenges we face. The Governor's proposed budget projects an 18 percent decrease in state aid for ESM.

Simultaneously, the Governor has proposed a 2 percent cap on property taxes. This cap is designed to limit any increases for public education from property taxes based on decreases in other sources of revenue. Unfortunately, NY State has not provided any relief for school districts with regard to unfunded mandates. This means that we will have to make difficult choices in the weeks ahead to develop a budget that will reduce our overall spending while still delivering a quality educational program for our students.

We are presently engaged in a review of all district enrollment projections and expenditures. Through this process, we are examining all areas of district programs, operations, services and staffing. It is too early to determine what the impact will be on specific areas; however, this comprehensive review will provide the data needed for the restructuring of programs, as well as the reduction and elimination of non-mandated services. In the final analysis we will carefully and thoughtfully need to make difficult decisions.

Our district remains committed to our priority of student learning while keeping the promise of our commitment for financial stewardship to our taxpayers. These challenging times require us to engage in thoughtful decision making.

Dr. Donna J. DeSiato is the superintendent of the East Syracuse Minoa School District.

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