Public learns more about Skaneateles school budget

Interim superintendent of schools Judy Pastel (far right) speaks at a public information session on the school budget.

Interim superintendent of schools Judy Pastel (far right) speaks at a public information session on the school budget.

Interim Superintendent Judy Pastel knows the importance of having an informed public, and she knows that budget issues are complicated — here and across the state and nation.

And so she has been meeting with various groups in hopes of getting the information out there. This week she met with several parent groups — from the PTCs to various booster groups — to explain the key elements of the budget.

“She is educating us so we better understand the complexities of the budget … and the challenges for the future,” said Marcia Watt, co-president of the high school PTC.

Watt applauded Dr. Pastel’s efforts to meet with various parent and community groups. She said the morning session gave her a better understanding of the impact of next year’s budget on current programs, and made her feel better able to answer questions she gets from others, although she said she would still encourage others to contact district officials directly if they have concerns or unanswered questions.

Pastel reassured parents that no programs are being eliminated. Cutbacks have largely been made through attrition, and careful shifting has been done so as to not impact programs. “We are reassigning some of our staff to better meet the needs of our students.”

As Pastel stressed, district administrators and the Board of Education want to respond to questions and concerns and would be happy to meet with groups or individuals. The budget, and the challenges faced by the board, cannot be outlined in a sound bite. Information on the district website is fairly comprehensive — but is much better understood in a conversation.

Pastel said she was meeting with leaders in the community, so that they will be informed when others ask them about the school budget.

Two upcoming public sessions will be held, and residents are encouraged to attend: 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7, in the district office board room and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, at the Skaneateles Library. Fore more information on the budget, visit skanschools.org.

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