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BC keeps modified, no more proposed cuts

The Bethlehem Board of Education has voted to keep modified and freshmen level sports in the district, but eliminated paying for the ice, greens and lane fees for its hockey, golfing and bowling teams.

During its Wednesday, March 25, meeting residents listened to the board make its finalized tentative budget reductions, although the board did not formally adopt a tentative 2009/10 school budget.

The district had reservations about a tier two proposal in its three-tiered plan to eliminate modified and freshmen level sports after receiving substantial criticism from the community. The board moved the reductions to the tier three level, thereby keeping the programs intact.

Bethlehem is facing a $2.2 million cut in state aid and had to try to close the budget gap on an almost $90 million budget by reducing expenditures and increasing revenues. Superintendent Michael Tebbano said many decisions facing the school are riding on the passage of a state budget with some restoration in school funding.

It all matters if the legislature can pass the budget. They're doing their thing and we just have to be patient, he said of the state budget passing by April 1. Tebbano said he received a letter from the governor's office stating that once the budget passes, money will be flowing to area school districts.

And to make the budget's passage even more pressing, Tebbano said the promised federal stimulus money will not go to schools until New York has passes its own budget.

Before the meeting began, the board had reduced $1.4 million from its budget to date, which had increased nearly $5 million over last year's through contractual raises, cost of living increases, supply increases and other annual expenditure hikes.

In a rare split vote, the board voted to stop paying the fees associated with hockey, golf and bowling. Spokesman Matt Leon said the district would still supply everything else, such as uniforms, coaches and referees.

However, those clubs will be responsible for raising the money for their respective fees to play.

The district pays $21,000 to rent the ice rink from the Capital District YMCA, which the board said is "the biggest check we write" for any single given sport expenditure.

Check for updates on this story at www.spotlightnews.com or read the Wednesday, April 1, print edition of The Spotlight.

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