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School district begins to consider budget cuts

— Tough economic times are forcing the Skaneateles Central School District to take a hard look at its 2012-13 budget and see what cuts can be made to save money.

At the Jan. 10 work session of the school board, district business manager Dale Bates laid out the current discussion points and progress of district budget considerations. The main information he offered was a complete list of all the non-state-mandated programs and services currently offered by the district that could theoretically be cut in order to save money.

The total cost to the district of all the non-mandated items on the list is $6.5 million, Bates said.

“In some cases we really need these services; in others we have alternate ways to fund them,” Bates told the board.

The possible areas for cuts range from minor impact items such as reducing postage, eliminating staff association memberships and eliminating school newsletters to major impact programs such as eliminating sports and arts programs, contracting out technology classes and services, and staff reductions.

No decisions have been made by the district administration — and none will be made for many weeks yet, board members said.

District administrators will meet during the week of Jan. 16 to pare down the complete list of non-mandated programs and services to a “more credible list” of the items that could realistically be cut, said school board member Kate Coggswell.

The release of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget on Tuesday, Jan. 17, will also impact district budget decisions, Bates said.

“But we are a low-need district, and we are not expecting any increase in state aid,” said school board President Evan Dreyfuss.

All budget updates and information — including possible cuts — will be posted on the district website as it becomes available in order to keep the public fully informed, Bates said.

To view the district’s 2012-13 budget information, go to skanschools.org/Budget.

Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at editor@skaneatelespress.com.

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