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Public hears Saratoga city school budget outline

Residents of Saratoga Springs received an in-depth look at the 2008-09 school budget on the evening of Tuesday, May 13. The budget hearing, held at the Saratoga Springs High School, also provided the public an opportunity to address the Board of Education. The proposed budget weighs in at $107,353,350, a 2.92 percent increase from the 2007-08 budget.

Assistant Superintendent of Business Kurt Jaeger walked attendees through the proposal, which mostly supports the current operation of the school district. New initiatives like two new elementary teachers, two flex" teaching positions and foreign language software for elementary schools " account for less than 1 percent of the budget.

"We looked very carefully at a lot of things, and were unable to do a lot of those," said Jaeger.

He cited the rising price of gas, electricity and food as some of the factors limiting the addition of new programs.

Some residents expressed displeasure that the budget was increasing despite services remaining the same.

"I'm concerned about this budget," said resident David Bronner. "The budget keeps going up and up with only a small increase in students. Something is whack."

Though time constraints precluded the board from addressing every concern raised, Jaeger did outline areas where the district has been working to reduce costs.

The cost to the average household would increase 2 to 6 percent based on location. That's a $3,392 average school tax bill for a $315,000 home. The final numbers aren't in yet because Wilton, Greenfield and Malta are undergoing reassessments.

Former Board of Education President Russ Danforth said he sees such increases as the result of less state aid.

"The burden is on the local taxpayer," said Danforth. "The state is not paying their portion."

Jaeger noted that in the 1991-92 school budget, state aid accounted for 47 percent of revenues. In the proposed 2008-09 budget, that share is 28.77 percent.

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