Bethlehem school district plans budget forums

"We are still combing through the details of the governor's proposal, but it's safe to say these figures are concerning," Tebbano said after the state budget proposal came out. "Essentially, there are only two options to make up for every dollar that is not received in state aid -- property taxes and cuts to programs and services. As always, we'll work to control costs wherever possible, but a cut on this scale could result in significant programmatic reductions or eliminations."

Tebbano noted the proposal is now in the hands of state legislators, with a state budget deadline of April 1. However, Paterson has publicly stated that he hopes the Legislature will act on the proposal by March 1.

Tebbano said the community budget forums grew out of his interest in building on the work of the citizens budget group during the past two years when he was the district's assistant superintendent under former Superintendent Les Loomis. Tebbano said he believes the forums will be a way to open discussions to the broader community that would frame the board of education's budget work in February and March.

Tebbano said the district launched an online "community budget forum" survey in November to try to gain a better sense of how the community wanted the forums to operate.

The district reported that it received more than 300 responses and that those surveyed had indicated a preference to focus on the academic program and class sizes and areas of savings/efficiencies in the budget. Those responding said they preferred to participate through both presentations and opportunities to ask questions.

Tebbano said the district is compiling a "frequently asked questions" document to address concerns and topics that were brought up in the survey. He added that answers would be presented on an ongoing basis throughout all four forums.

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