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BC fund balance key in budget process

"Inevitably, it's going to end up being a hit on our fund balance," said Kehoe.

Paterson has said that school districts need to tap their fund balances to get through the tough fiscal environment. Tebbano roundly rejected that argument, saying that running down the fund balance could put the district in a potentially dangerous situation if unanticipated situations arise.

"I think there's a lot of misinformation on the governor's blog about those reserve funds," said Tebbano. "If we spend down that reserve, the taxes go up."

Kehoe agreed, noting that the state comptroller frowns upon schools spending down reserves.

"It's a bad business practice that will reflect negatively if we go out for bonds," she said. "It affects our financial strength."

Making up the proposed aid cut through taxes would represent a 2.9 percent tax hike.

Tebbano said he thinks it's far more likely that the mid-year cuts to school aid will be held off until next year, but the delay won't do anything to lessen the impact of lost revenue. He also said he it's unlikely that the state or federal government will find stimulus dollars to offset school aid cuts like earlier this year.

"I'm not anticipating the cavalry to come and do that again," he said.

Tebbano met with district administrators and department supervisors recently to begin addressing the budget process for the 2010-11 school year, and said that the consensus is that the coming year looks grim.

There will be three public meetings on the budget in January and early February, during which the public may ask questions and make suggestions about the budget. The public votes on the budget in May.

The next meeting of the Board of Education will be at the High School Library Media Center on Wednesday, Nov. 18, and will start early at 6:30 p.m. There will be a presentation by Independent Towers LLC regarding a proposal to build a cell tower at the district's Operations and Maintenance building near the High School, which will be followed by an opportunity for public comment.

The school district has been investigating building a tower on district property as a means of bringing in alternative revenue. Independent has said the district stands to recognize $20,000 to $24,000 immediately, with the chance of more revenue if more cell carriers place equipment on the tower.

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