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CLCS trying to combat state’s financial woes

March 4, 2011
By Benjamin Spitzer

As I am sure you are aware, the state of New York is facing a daunting challenge, with a projected budget deficit next year potentially exceeding $10 billion. In response to this reality, the recently released Executive Budget proposed by Governor Cuomo calls for significant changes to education funding. Locally, the proposal means a reduction in state aid of over $500,000. With federal stimulus money expiring and a property tax cap a real possibility in the near future, our district faces funding challenges that will drastically change how we conduct business. Such things as course offerings for students, extra-curricular programs, athletic opportunities and class size may all be affected both next year and into the foreseeable future.

Since July of last year, the district has been focusing on the upcoming budget more than ever before. We have conducted public meetings to discuss the budget, and the Budget Task Force has evaluated elements of our expense plan in search of cost savings. In fact, we have already placed a budget freeze on non-essential expenditures and planned for new budget reductions in such things as central office, operations and maintenance, and transportation. However, even with these measures, the current budget gap for 2011-12 exceeds $1 million.

In the coming weeks and months, the administration and Board of Education will carefully evaluate our expected revenues and known expenses. With such a large disparity between the two, it will likely be incumbent on us to make choices regarding what we can continue to do the same way, what we must do differently, and what we can no longer do at all. You are strongly encouraged to attend school board meetings and get involved in the conversation surrounding the financial crisis in education as it relates to Chautauqua Lake Central School District.

Furthermore, please pay careful attention to the regional effort that our district is engaged in. We are aggressively partnering with the school districts in the ASSET (A Shared Services Educational Team) Consortium — which includes Brocton, Ripley and Westfield — to identify and pursue relationships that preserve and protect educational opportunities for children and/or result in cost efficiencies. In fact, by the time this newsletter reaches you, the Boards of Education of all four districts will have met to discuss our past work together and our future plans.

With the capacity of public education funding significantly strained at a time when education reform is calling for greater student achievement, regional collaborations — such as those modeled by the ASSET Consortium — are critical for our district and others around the state.

Benjamin Spitzer is the superintendent of Chautauqua Lake Central School.


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