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Skaneateles community brainstorms ideas for district’s future

Community members discussed strategies for dealing with pressures facing the Skaneateles school district at a community forum held Wednesday. ABOVE: Board of Education Vice President Thomas Lambdin (left) works with a table to discuss ideas.

Community members discussed strategies for dealing with pressures facing the Skaneateles school district at a community forum held Wednesday. ABOVE: Board of Education Vice President Thomas Lambdin (left) works with a table to discuss ideas. Photo by Joe Genco.

The Skaneateles Central School District has turned to its taxpayers to help suss out how to handle impending financial challenges.

Community members brainstormed ideas for the schools to save money while maintaining its programs at a public forum on Nov. 20 at Waterman Primary School. Potential strategies discussed included moving grades to new buildings, consolidating staff and closing the district office.

The forum came after two recent meetings during which Interim Superintendent of Schools Judy Pastel and members of the board of education explained the stressors and challenges the district will face in coming years.

At the Nov. 20 meeting Pastel also announced that regardless of the results of the studies conducted by the district, she will not recommend that the board approve shifting grades for the 2014-15 school year.

“We probably have one year left before big changes have to happen,” Board of Education President Kathryn Carlson said at the board’s regular meeting on Nov. 19. “The board and the administration are committed to using this next year to do a thorough study of all the options, this is why we need your ideas.”

At the Waterman meeting it was up to members of the community to do the talking, as they broke into eight small groups of about 10 people each in the cafeteria to discuss ideas for the district’s future and the challenges and opportunities each would present.

The groups were also given additional information gathered by the administration in response to questions asked at the Nov. 12 information session. This included some numbers on recent changes already made within the district. By consolidating and reducing its curriculum coordinators, principals and counselors the district will save $421,000 in the 2014-15 school year budget.

The district also reported that among other effects, closing the district office would save the district $10,010 per year on utility costs. However, leasing the office to an outside group could be problematic since the district is still paying debt service on the bond taken out to refurbish that building, Assistant Superintedent of Business and Finance Dale Bates said.

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