Open school budget meetings on tap

With a new administration at the helm, the Bethlehem Central School District is changing the way it does business.

Superintendent Michael Tebbano, a former assistant superintendent who was named to the post last spring, said the district plans to begin the budget process in January and will hold a series town hall-style meetings to allow residents to ask specific questions about academic programs, district spending and, of course, the all-important tax rate.

Tebbano said there was nothing wrong with how the school previously created its yearly budget, but that he wanted to make the process as transparent as possible while engaging the public at the same time.

"What we're trying to do is to get the school district involved in the budget process earlier then they have in the past," Tebbano said. "We want to put out specific information put our programs up front and analyze what they're all about."

With a new administration, including himself, a new assistant superintendent and several new principals, Tebbano said, a new approach is a natural and inevitable progression.

"We want to hold open meetings with the public and put everything on the table. We are opening up a lot of opportunity for parents to convey any concerns or questions," said Tebbano. "We wanted to have an open book in this process. I think some people may have had the perception that we weren't open enough and may have been hiding some things in the budget, which is completely untrue."

After the school budget was passed in May, local businessman and active Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce member John Giordano was critical of the school's budget process after serving for two years on the district's Citizen Budget Group. Giordano likened the citizen's group to "choosing whether or not to put in a new gym floor" and said they were left out of more than 85 percent of the school's budget.

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