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BH-BL looks to public for budget trimming ideas

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District will hold a forum on the school budget for the upcoming year on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m. at Ballston Town Hall.

Chief among topics of discussion will be how the district will deal with a possible $1.6 million reduction in state aid for the 2009-2010 school year.

Officials have already begun implementing cost-cutting measures, such as instating freezes on discretionary purchases and conference attendance, reviewing staff vacancies and lowering the thermostats a few degrees wherever possible. The Board of Education will be on hand to take suggestions from the public at Tuesday's meeting.

Any money saved in the current year puts us in a better position for 2009-10, said Superintendent Jim Schultz in a written statement.

The current year's budget stands at $52.2 million.

Specific numbers will not be discussed at the meeting, as preliminary budget requests have not yet been submitted. Public forums in February and March will give residents further opportunities to comment on the budget proceedings.

With such deep cuts expected, it is likely that cost saving measures won't be able to close the gap entirely.

"Education is a people business, and three-quarters of the district budget pays the salaries and benefits of our staff," said Schultz. "There is no way we can cut $1.6 million from our budget without cutting some staff positions, and that means cutting some of the services and programs on which parents and students depend."

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