Bethlehem school district freezes spending

Bethlehem Central School District announced during its Tuesday, Oct. 14, board of education meeting that it would be initiating a non-essential spending freeze.

Superintendent Michael Tebbano said the district is taking a proactive approach in monitoring its finances during a time of national and global economic woes. Tebbano said the school would take a series of precautionary measures to limit spending and identify areas of savings and cost avoidances.

He said all essential operations, particularly the core academic program for students, would continue without being affected. The superintendent emphasized that the district is not on the brink of a financial crisis, but he wanted to take precautions to alleviate as much of the financial burden as possible.

Tebbano said the district is putting a freeze on additional hiring and certain supply requests, as well as discontinuing professional programs outside of the district and holding other professional programs after school hours so that substitutes will not have to be used.

"We also closed off the concept of paid field trips," Tebbano said in a telephone interview, but added that field trips paid for by student fundraising would continue, as well as athletic trips and other programs such as the science lab trips.

After consultation with the board of education and district administrators, Tebbano announced the "non-essential spending guidelines" in a memo to all staff members on Friday, Oct. 10. The restrictions in the memo included moving curriculum development sessions after school and making them voluntary; close scrutiny by the superintendent and assistant superintendent for educational programs of any new hires, equipment or supplies, and conference requests, with only the most essential being granted; and the cancellation of field trips, with certain exceptions.

"In the current economic crisis, business, families and governments at all levels are making difficult financial decisions. BC is no different," Tebbano wrote to staff. "We must take proactive and precautionary measures to hold down spending and identify cost avoidances wherever possible."

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