Saratoga Springs School District resumes budget talks

Mapping out the curriculum, the possible addition of a new Nordic Ski Team and technology were just some of the topics discussed by the Saratoga Central School District at its Tuesday, March 25, budget workshop.

The district's board of education listened to presentations from department heads on budget items pertaining to education, special education and pupil services, as well as staff development and assessments.

Administrators went over the tentative 2008-09 budget numbers, with a budget adoption expected by the board on Tuesday, April 8, according to Public Information Specialist Maureen Dana.

A statewide vote on local school and library budgets will take place May 20. Board of education members and library trustees are also up for election during the statewide vote.

David L'Hommedieu, director for information technology, gave the first presentation to the board.

Out of 6,900 students in the district and 1,000 staff members, there are only 15 IT positions in the school, L'Hommedieu said, emphasizing the importance of technology to schools.

Think of a car where the engine doesn't work well, he said. "That car isn't of very much value to you."

L'Hommedieu said he hopes to continue making improvements in several areas for the district, including upgrading the school's e-mail system and pupil service package and switching over to fiber optics. He also plans to continue the computer replacement plan on a five-year cycle and upgrade the school's Web site filters, which students can sometimes override.

The school's districtwide technology plan is reviewed every three years.

L'Hommedieu made two new requests to the board over last year's budget. He asked for an annual information technology stipend of $250,000, which could be used for new interactive whiteboards, a wireless Internet network, new laptops for students and teachers, and video conferencing equipment.

The current video conferencing allows students to interact nationwide, including conferences at places like NASA, Alaska, and the San Diego Zoo, said L'Hommedieu, who wanted to expand the school's capability.

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