Familiar message, new forum

The budget picture should get sharper once Gov. Andrew Cuomo presents his own budget plans in early February.

Questions from the forum's audience ranged from operational facts like how much of the fund balance is left (about $11 million, $2.3 million of which is scheduled to be spent this year) and whether the district pays property taxes (no, just water and sewer taxes).

Many in the physical and cyberspace audience had much more specific queries, though, and a sizable contingent were clearly concerned about the possible closing of Clarksville Elementary, an idea Tebbano is preparing a feasibility study on for the school board. It's possible a decision could be made in coming months and impact the 2011-12 budget, and it's a possibility that's being considered seriously enough that a search for a new principal there has been suspended.

Some asked why the district had spent $3 million on Clarksville renovations during its reconstruction project, and why Eagle Elementary was built at all in 2008.

Tebbano said enrollment projections before the housing market collapse had been markedly different, with as many as 90 single family homes planned for the Clarksville area that never materialized. Since then, enrollment at the school has only been falling.

"If we did nothing and hypothetically that whole thing did blossom, we'd be in another way," he said.

It's possible the district would simply close the school and wait for things to turn around, rather than selling it and risking a charter school operation moving into the area. The school board will consider the details at its next meeting on Feb. 2.""

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