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Multiage still on the table

"If you're going to keep multiage, commit to it and then do it right," said Clarksville parent Laura Stevens. "I think it can be done successfully, it just hasn't been done recently."

Tebbano also took a moment to comment on the developing state budget, which will play a role in the direction the school district takes in its own budgeting.

Gov. David Paterson's executive budget calls for over $1 billion in cuts to school aid, and Bethlehem Central would be in store for a $2.3 million aid reduction if the budget were to pass intact, which is in line with the $2.5 million administrators have been working into their initial planning.

But after last year's budget cuts, Tebbano said that making up the aid gap through budget reductions would mean firing teachers, administrators and support staff and cutting into extracurricular activities.

"One of the things we're concerned about it we want to keep a low tax rate, we may have to go after the $2.5 million in budget cuts," Tebbano said.

The district is holding community budget forums to gather opinions. The next will be held Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. at the middle school, when the public will break into small groups to speak with officials.

The deadline for the state to pass a budget is April 1, though the state has only passed a budget on time on one occasion since 1984. Voters will go to the polls to vote on the school budget May 18.

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