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Voorheesville school budget talk draws concerned crowd

Parents express concerns over proposed cuts, increasing classroom size

Some attendees at Voorheesville Central School District's community budget forum on Monday, March 24, raise their hand when a speaker asks how many people turned out over concerns of increasing the incoming fourth-grade class size.

Some attendees at Voorheesville Central School District's community budget forum on Monday, March 24, raise their hand when a speaker asks how many people turned out over concerns of increasing the incoming fourth-grade class size. Photo by John Purcell.

— More than 100 people turned out to the Voorheesville school district’s budget forum on Monday, March 24, and several parents expressed an overarching fear the community was losing its distinguishing characteristics.

Voorheesville Central School District is facing a budget gap of around $320,000 to stay within its state-mandated tax cap. The gap does not include any additional state aid proposed to be included in the state budget, which was not adopted before The Spotlight went to press Monday, March 31. Voorheesville’s proposed 2014-15 budget totals nearly $22.9 million, which increases spending by 1.45 percent, or around $327,500. District enrollment has also gradually declined from 1,227 in the 2008-09 school year to 1,173 this school year.

The district’s budget presentation on March 10 had the Board of Education looking to cut around $418,000, but they made adjustments outside of staffing. The new reductions cut about $97,500 from the gap through reducing supplies and contracted services, decreasing health and dental insurance premiums, reducing supplied and contracted instructional services, and cutting $7,500 from the athletic program.

Board President Timothy Blow said the community budget forum was primarily to receive feedback and input from the community on the proposal. The meeting lasted around two hours after an initial budget presentation.

“Our goal tonight is not to react, respond or make a decision tonight. Our primary purpose is to listen,” Blow said. “I don’t want to leave the impression that this doesn’t mean anything; it means a lot, but there is a process we are going through.”

Blow also stressed the budget is not finalized yet, with a lot depending on how much state aid the district receives. He said the district prefers to predict state aid conservatively to be ready for the “worst case scenario.”

“Last year, we went through a series of versions where things keep getting added back to the line items because it (state aid) ended up being more than we originally anticipated,” Blow said.

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