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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.

Each group, aided by a board member or representative of Cayuga County BOCES, came up with its top two ideas to share with everyone at the end.

The ideas groups came up with included: sharing administrative or other services with nearby districts, outsourcing, closing the district office, sharing textbooks, e-learning, distance learning, reducing energy and transportation costs, bringing more students into the district, charging fees to community groups that use the buildings and raising the tax rate by proposing a budget that exceeds the tax cap (which would require a 60 percent supermajority approval).

One idea proposed by two groups that received a lot of support from those in attendance was shifting grades down rather than up, as Pastel had previously announced the district would study. This could possibly mean sixth graders moving to State Street Intermediate School and third graders moving to Waterman school.

Since the middle school gym is in disrepair it wouldn’t make sense to be moving more students into that building, Julie Abbott-Kenan said.

Abbott-Kenan said that her group had also discussed building an addition onto Waterman School to house more students and having the middle school be used as a regional testing center to potentially bring in new revenue.

After a representative of each group shared their ideas, everyone was able to vote on what ideas they like best by placing stickers on the papers that the ideas were written on.

Jessica Millman, who originally started the online petition asking the district to initiate the process involving more community feedback, said that the forum was a success and has also lead to more people learning about how the school board and district function.

“It’s extremely exciting to see all this energy being expended on behalf of this community and our children,” she said.

The top ideas from the meeting will now be investigated and discussed further by study groups composed of teachers, parents, administrators and other community members. Those groups will update the board on their progress during the next couple of months and could lead to the board being able to vote on a proposal to be implemented for the 2015-16 school year.

Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at editor@skaneatelespress.com.

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