Press-Republican

Wednesday

March 26, 2014

Selling $2,800 cookies in Saranac Lake

SARANAC LAKE — A bake sale on Main Street here had a message in the cookie mix.

Teachers, parents and school officials staged a one-day Mock Bake Sale next to the Town Hall here on Saturday.

Pricetags asked for $2,800 per cookie, a cost reflecting the amount of state aid lost for every school student here over the past four years.

Don Carlisto, co-president of the Saranac Lake Teacher’s Association, said the bake sale drew attention.

“What we’ve been doing is having ongoing discussions about school funding and raising awareness of the financial challenges facing this district.

“We came up with a $2,800 dollar figure for cookies at the bake sale because that is the estimated average amount per student taken through Gap Elimination Adjustment over the course of four years.”

‘CONSOLIDATION NOT AN ANSWER’

Saranac Lake Central School District is looking at a $1.2 million budget deficit, even though it closed two schools and trimmed more than 30 jobs in the past several years.

Proposed 2014-15 budget Gap Elimination cuts withhold $866,000 in state school aid, a number that school officials have said would go a long way to close their deficit.

Saranac Lake is also the largest geographical district in New York, encompassing all or portions of seven towns, which makes discussion of consolidation here a hard sell.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo put significant school-aid resources toward projects that consolidate regional education. He also set aid funding priority for schools that achieve teacher assessment goals through several new grant programs. 

And he hopes to freeze property taxes for two years without fully restoring Gap Elimination cuts, which were meant to be a temporary measure four years ago.

“The property-tax-freeze proposal would require schools to do even more consolidation. In a large district like ours, that doesn’t seem reasonable,” Carliso said.

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