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NSCSD superintendent asks for community input to address budget deficit

— On March 19, residents in the North Syracuse Central School District were given a clearer picture of what lay ahead for the 2012-13 budget.

During the Board of Education meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Management Donald Keegan provided the audience with a rundown of the district’s budget deficit of $9.2 million and potential cuts necessary to close the gap for the upcoming school year.

“North Syracuse has been struggling financially for the last three years,” Keegan said. “Since 2009, expenditures have been cut 15.2 million, including 200 positions.”

According to Keegan, non-school tax revenues for the 2012-13 budget will be down $4.5 million, or 7.9 percent from the 2011-12 budget. While several districts may use fund balance and reserves to offset their budgets, North Syracuse has not overtaxes its residents in order to build a larger reserve, Keegan said.

In his presentation, Keegan reviewed the district’s budget history including previous year’s cuts, discussed the district’s current per pupil spending — which is ranked 666th lowest among the 676 districts the state — and provided an overview of the potential cuts necessary to close the district’s budget gap of $9,281,254.

“The way we close that deficit is one of two ways — we either cut expenses or we increase taxes, and that’s the debate that will be going on for the next month,” Keegan said

While no decisions have been made as to where reductions will occur, possible expenditure reductions have been identified in a variety of areas, including $1 million worth of cuts to administration, reductions in art electives at Cicero-North Syracuse High School and in kindergarten through sixth grade and several potential cuts to athletics.

According to Keegan, athletic programs as a whole are costing the district approximately $1.3 million.

Additionally, reductions in teaching staff could save the district upward of $2.3 million, increasing class sizes in first through sixth grades from 22 students to 28 and across all sections of all courses for grades seven through 12.

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