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Area schools face tough budget choices

"We have to nurture and take care of the programs that are in place," said Swartz.

In Saratoga County, the Burnt Hills Ballston Lake district is also holding community forums as a way of tackling the budget by gaining insight from parents and taxpayers as well. The forums take an in-depth look at the governor's proposals, which could lead to cuts close to $3.6 million for the district. Superintendent Jim Schultz said in a statement that staff reductions, as well as cuts in services and programs will be inevitable if the budget is passed.

Administrators across the Capital District said they are aware that this is not the only year they could see decreases in aid, and they are already anticipating the same for 2010-2011.

The governor's office issued a statement in December regarding the budget cuts, saying New Yorkers must understand there is no alternative given the dire straits of the economy. Paterson also encouraged residents to remember this is not only about New York, but also about the entire country.

"New York is not alone in a budget crisis," Paterson said. "But if the United States is the epicenter of a global financial meltdown, New York is the focus of our financial woe."

There is one bright point for schools. Under President Barack Obama's proposed stimulus package, Capital District schools could receive a much-needed $84 million over the next two years. According to the U.S. Department of Education, if approved, that money could come as soon as April.

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