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Liverpool Central School District faces $10.3M budget gap

Liverpool Superintendent Dr. Richard Johns, left, listens as school board member Pat DeBona-Rosier speaks during a board of education meeting Monday Jan. 23. Between them is board president Don Cook.

Liverpool Superintendent Dr. Richard Johns, left, listens as school board member Pat DeBona-Rosier speaks during a board of education meeting Monday Jan. 23. Between them is board president Don Cook. Photo by Sarah Hall.

— With a $10.3 million budget gap looming, the Liverpool Central School District faces a difficult budget season ahead.

However, the board of education soundly rejected the possibility of reducing kindergarten to a half-day program, as well as the idea of closing an elementary school before the fall of 2013.

The school board was asked to consider those proposals at its regular board meeting Monday, Jan. 23 by Superintendent Richard Johns as possible cost-cutting measures. Johns emphasized that he was not recommending those measures, but that they had been suggested to him by members of his administrative team and that he wanted to bring them forth to the board before including them in or rejecting them from the budget he’ll present to them Feb. 27.

The problem is that Liverpool’s share of state aid has gone down yet again this year, Johns said.

“Liverpool’s share of the state budget went down $3.5 million,” Johns said. “At the same time, he kept back $250 million for competitive grants across the state, for which we will probably not be eligible because we don’t have the high need that he seems to be very enthralled with... We’ve suffered through four years of budget freezes and now we’re going into the fifth with a $3.5 million deficit.”

The first proposal presented to the board involved cutting back from full-day kindergarten, which was implemented in 1999, to half-day kindergarten. According to calculations presented along with the board packet, the net savings would total $757,620.29.

“This has come up each of the last two years as a budget-cutting proposal,” Johns said. “I rejected it last year and did not include it in the superintendent’s budget proposal. This year it’s come up again.”

Johns asked if the board would reject the idea completely if he included it in his budget or if they would consider it.

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