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March 31, 2014

Plattsburgh City School faces budget gap, awaits state budget

PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh City School District intends to bridge its 2014-15 budget gap with as little impact on student programs as possible.

“I think, one way or another, we can have a budget for you without doing dramatic cuts to programs for students, (but) it will not be without alterations and changes in how our budget operates,” District Superintendent James “Jake” Short told attendees at a recent School Board meeting.

The district currently faces a deficit of about $2.7 million dollars; however, that is subject to change depending on the amount of funding granted to the school in the state’s final spending plan, due out by April 1.

“We’re at a bit of a sticking point, if you will, because we’re waiting for some pivotal information from the state of New York. State aid is quite pivotal in this budget analysis,” Short said.

OTHER AREAS

The district’s health-insurance and salary costs for next school year also remain unknown, as two of its unions are involved in contract negotiations.

The current gap, according to Short, is the result of rising costs associated with retirement and health-insurance premiums and workers compensation, combined with a minimal aid increase proposed by the governor and a tax-levy limit just above zero.

While the school is awaiting further information from the state, Short wished to meet with the board’s Audit Committee and other district representatives to examine each line of the budget and look for potential savings.

He felt there was less utility in looking to non-mandated programs for cuts this year, as there is little appetite to eliminate those that remain.

For example, he noted, “full-day kindergarten is not mandated in New York state (but) it’d be foolish to take that away.”

However, Short continued, “there are other things in the budget, other areas that you could work on, that don’t really cut into the student program that way.”

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