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Lisbon Central School looks at program and job cuts to fill $500K budget gap

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LISBON - Program and job cuts on are on the table as the Lisbon Central School Board of Education works to whittle away a $577,569 gap in it’s $12,809,619 preliminary budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

At Thursday’s board meeting, Superintendent Erin E. Woods said proposed staff cuts include a physical education teaching assistant, saving $42,206, two special education teaching assistants, saving a total of $83,816, eliminating the seventh- and eighth-grade Spanish teaching position, saving $48,132, and the possibility of not replacing the buildings and grounds head position for a savings of $86,205.

Ms. Woods said the district is also considering saving $48,500 through a variety of other means, like reducing the district’s reliance on new textbooks.

But that still leaves a $254,710 budget gap, Business Manager Wendy S. White said.

“We’ve cut as far as we possibly can,” Ms. Woods said at Thursday’s meeting.

She said she is hopeful that the state Legislature will throw the district a lifeline in the form of additional state aid.

Ms. Woods has been reaching out to local lawmakers to get them to lobby on the school’s behalf.

The state’s budget, which will include the final state aid numbers for the distinct, is due by April 1.

In the preliminary budget discussed at Thursday’s meeting, the district is anticipating collecting $3.19 million in taxes, a 2 percent increase from last year, Mrs. White said. In order for the district to further increase tax revenue, it would need an affirmative vote from two-thirds of the district’s voters.

The district plans on applying $1.6 million of fund balance this year, and Mrs. White said if they are forced to continue spending their reserves, the district will be in the red by the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

Mrs. White said the biggest driver of expenses are employee health insurance costs and benefits.

“I feel like we’re just up against the wall,” board member Scott Walker said.

Board President Blake P. Gendebien said he is concerned that cuts will seriously impact the quality of education students receive at Lisbon.

“To lose Spanish in this day and age would be a real failure to students,” Mr. Gendebien said.

The board will hold another budget meeting on April 24, with a public budget hearing scheduled for May 8. The budget vote will be held on May 20.

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