Scotia-Glenville school district braces for budget challenge

Superintendent Susan Swartz said the budget she must prepare for 2009-2010 will be one that reflects the state's current economic woes, and while the district's academic standards will never be compromised, there is no way it can avoid cuts.

My goal for next year is to maintain and improve upon the programs that we already have in place. Adding new programs and costs may not be an option right now, said Swartz.

The school board held its initial budget meetings Tuesdays, Feb. 23 and March 2, and board members said they hope to prepare a budget that meets the needs of the district, especially in the area of maintenance, while being sensitive to taxpayers with already burdened wallets.

Swartz said her budget is addressing how the district can optimize state grants, like the one from EXCEL, to target some of the more pressing facility needs.

Swartz said it is also unclear just how deep the education aid cuts will be and how much will be offset by the federal stimulus package.

Swartz advised the board to go forward assuming Gov. David Paterson's originally proposed cuts are passed. She said airing on the side of caution will allow for more room later adding onto the budget.

Scotia-Glenville has an already successful district in terms of state testing scores and statistics, Swartz said, and being able to maintain the existing programs will bring the budget in at $47.9 million. The district hopes to trim about $1.07 million from the budget to get it down to a 4.1 percent tax increase.

The board looked at cutting areas such as driver's education and some summer school programs. Staff cuts may also come into play although many, if not all, would come from vacated positions that won't be filled.

Budget workshops allowing for community input will be held between April 6 to May 6. The budget vote and board of education elections will be May 19.

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