Tuesday, May 18, 2010

TL school budget passed

Here's Jon Alexander's report on the Tupper Lake Central School District budget vote:

With the largest voter turnout in two decades, proponents of the 2010-11 Tupper Lake Central School District budget scored a bittersweet victory Tuesday night as the proposal passed 600 to 465.

District Superintendent Seth McGowan said he was relieved that voters supported the budget proposal that includes an 8 percent tax hike while eliminating 25 percent of the school’s instructional positions.

“We’ve made a promise that if we get additional state aid, we would try to get the tax levy down even further and past that we would try to restore some of the positions and programs that we lost,” McGowan said. “It’s a little bittersweet because while we know it won’t get worse, it comes at quite a cost to our district.”

Traditionally, large voter turnout for contentious school budgets dooms the proposal.

“It’s usually the kiss of death,” McGowan said.

If it had failed, district officials would have had to find a way to slash another $171,000 from the $16.4 million budget.

Programming in the arts and humanities will bare the largest brunt of the cuts, as school officials grapple with likely reductions in state aid.

On Monday, Governor David Paterson predicted that an unusually high number of school budgets would fail across the state’s 700 districts.

But in the case of Tupper Lake, McGowan believes the Governor is out of touch.

“But that would mean that the taxpayers agree with him. I think that by virtue of the fact we passed by this much, I can say Paterson you’re wrong,” he said. “Not only did you misinterpret the situation, but you put your state budget side by side with the school budget and I’ll guarantee we’ll fair better than you.”

Throughout the state, school officials have had to assume the worst, as lawmakers in Albany have yet to reach a consensus on how much state would be slashed in the coming year.

Paterson and Senate Democrats are calling for $1.4 billion in total cuts, while the Assembly Majority wants $600 million of that number restored.

A proposal to buy two new buses also survived. Incumbent board of education members Dan Mansfield, Dawn Hughes and Mark Yamrick were elected to another term. Each ran unopposed.

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