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Mohonasen asks for budget input

The Mohonasen Central School District held an open forum Monday, Jan 12, to discuss budget goals and priorities as part of the planning process for the 2009-2010 school year.

Before the meeting, the district posted a survey on its Web site to gauge community concerns and budget priorities.

It is a new format that we are going with, and Monday night was the first meeting, so I think that it went well, said Eileen French, president of the Mohonasen Central School District Board of Education. "I think we would like to see more people in the audience to get more of a pulse on the reactions from the community."

According to Kathleen Spring, superintendent of Mohonasen Central School District, 269 people had participated in the survey by the time it closed on Friday, Jan. 9. Between15 and 20 people attended the meeting.

"I think it went well," said Spring, of the meeting, which consisted of a 30-minute presentation and a 30-minute question-and-answer period.

The presentation discussed the district's budgetary goals, changes in the 2009-2010 budget planning procedures and the fiscal constraints the district faces.

"There were some great questions that were asked and how we will proceed with certain things given that the governor is proposing a $1.5 million reduction in the aid we were receiving last year," said French.

The district could see a proposed budget cut of approximately $3 million "if things stay exactly the same as the governor proposed with flat state aid and deficit reduction," said Spring.

Budgetary goals for the district include a minimal budget increase and a commensurate tax that would support the district's "Whatever it Takes, Whatever the Challenge" philosophy, and maintain programs while moving the district forward, as well as maximizing existing resources while seeking out new revenues.

According to Spring, many of the responses to the online survey, which were addressed at Monday night's meeting, were concerning how the district would handle inevitable rising costs, and whether or not staff cuts will be made.

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