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Skaneateles Board of Education faces tough decisions

Skaneateles Board of Education President Evan Dreyfus wants to be cautious with how much the board includes in its upcoming capital funds project.

“This is a lot of money. We need to go with safety and maintenance concerns first and if these other things aren’t defensible, I have no problem with saying no to the niceties,” he said at a March 12 work session.

The board held the work session to go through the list of proposed projects one by one with architect Michael Harris. The board voted unanimously on whether to include or remove most of the proposals, though it had to table the discussion on a few of the bigger projects.

The board’s plan was to finish its discussion and vote on the scope of the project at its March 19 meeting. The proposal would then have to be approved by a public vote in June, though it could go ahead with some of the planning and designing in the meantime.

The board is cautious about sending too big a proposal to the taxpayers because of its recent history. It is still paying off the debt from a capital funds project it did in 2000 and they are worried the public may be weary of the board asking for money so often, especially on things that could be seen as superfluous, Dreyfus said.

However, fixing the leaky middle and high school buildings and doing asbestos abatement are absolutely necessary, so not doing the project is not an option for the board. Also, interest rates are low, making now a good time to borrow money, Dreyfus said.

Also, the board has to consider the possibility that the district could have to close one of its elementary schools and even be forced to consolidate with another district in the next 10 to 20 years due to statewide declining enrollment.

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