Bunrt Hills-Ballston Lake school budget talks begin

Schultz is also calling on the district's five principals to reduce support staff in each of the district's buildings. Each principal must cut $25,000 in support staff, which would save the district $125,000 total in the 2008-09 budget.

Despite cuts in staffing, Schultz recommended adding a $37,000 a year custodial/maintenance position to address building expansions. He said that although the position is new, it would reduce the amount of overtime paid to custodial/maintenance staff.

District officials are also concerned about Gov. Eliot Spitzer's executive budget, which has withdrawn funding for school programs in order to reduce state spending.

"We understand Gov. Spitzer's desire to reduce state spending," Schultz said, "but this shouldn't be done on the backs of our schools."

Under the governor's BOCES aid and Foundation aid funding formulas the district could lose up to $200,000 in BOCES aid, which was promised in last year's state budget, said the district's communication specialist Christy Multer.

Several unfunded mandates proposed in Spitzer's executive budget, released Tuesday, Jan. 22, are also of concern to district officials.

Of particular concern is an unfunded mandate proposed in the executive budget that would require districts to incur the cost of prescreening special education pupils. The district would have to foot the $30,000 bill in its 2008-09 budget, if the Legislature adopts the mandate.

While the mandate only calls for the cost of prescreening special education pupils, Multer said, "this could be the thin edge of the wedge."

She explained that if this mandate is adopted, it might have a greater impact in the future if the state required schools to incur all the costs associated with educating children with special needs, a cost now paid for by the county.

According St.Onge the district would have to increase the tax levy by 7.4 percent if the Legislature adopts the governor's proposals.

The district is also lobbying legislators to consider paying for the administration of state exams, as required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, overseen by individual states.

The district pays $50,000 annually to administer these tests, which pays for substitute teachers while the district's teachers are grading exams.

"We're not objecting to the tests; we realize they are an important accountability measure, but we would like the government to fund them," Multer said.""

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