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NNCS schedules community forums to discuss budget issues

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NORFOLK - The Norwood-Norfolk Central School Board of Education has scheduled two community forums for January and February to talk about what they’re facing as they craft their 2013-14 spending plan.

The sessions will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 29 and Feb. 27 in the elementary cafeteria.

Superintendent Elizabeth A. Kirnie said each forum will have the same format and content. The purpose, she said, is to update the public on the current financial condition of the school district, share a three-year budget projection and ask for community input on some of the difficult choices ahead.

“Anyone who wants to attend both is welcome. The content will be the same. We want to give people information that will be important to the kinds of decisions they’ll need to make around budget time and the issues the board will be grappling with,” Mrs. Kirnie said.

“Our initial deliberations are on the assumption that we will pretty much have the same budget that we did this year, that there will be no changes in income unless the governor comes out with something different,” she said, noting that the state would be grappling with the financial after effects of Superstorm Sandy. “There are only so many dollars.” The district held community forums in 2012 as part of budget planning process. But they had sent out invitations to select representatives in the community.

This time around, Mrs. Kirnie said, they’re open to any district resident and local business owner who wants to attend to hear about and discuss the district’s budget plans.

“It will be a very similar format (to 2012),” she said. “Rather than send out letters as we did last year, we want to advertise in the media and have flyers in important places in the community to let people know that everyone who is a resident is welcome and encouraged to attend.”

They plan to start each forum with a presentation in which district officials “will attempt to give them a lot of information that they’ll need to know in their discussions,” the superintendent said.

“(The initial presentation) is going to be slightly longer than it was before, but will by no means dominate the evening,” she said.

For the majority of the evening, and as they did last year, participants will break down into small groups to consider questions posed to them by district officials.

“There will be an opportunity for groups to report back on their responses and it will end with a question and answer period,” she said.

Mrs. Kirnie said, while registration isn’t required, they’d like people to let them know if they plan to attend so they can provide information to participants ahead of time. That way, she said, the participants won’t have to absorb as much of the data the night of the forums.

“When they RSVP, that will allow us to send them information ahead of time, as well as to know how many people to prepare for,” she said.

Anyone who plans to attend is asked to respond to Barbara Halpin in the district office, 353-9951, ext. 2604, by Jan. 18 for the first forum or Feb. 15 for the second forum.

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