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NNCS to hold second community budget forum

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NORFOLK - Despite a small turnout for their first community budget forum, Norwood-Norfolk Central School officials are forging ahead with plans for a second and final forum on Feb. 27.

Six people attended the initial January forum, where the format that had originally been planned was changed because of the low turnout.

“Some have said, ‘Thank you, but no thank you, it’s a waste of time,’” Superintendent Elizabeth A. Kirnie said.

Others, however, have encouraged district officials to hold the second session.

Mrs. Kirnie said her recommendation was to move ahead with the second forum, which begins at 6 p.m. in the elementary school cafeteria.

She said the organizing committee had met since the first forum and made some changes to the presentation and format of the second session.

During their first session, district officials had planned to break participants down into groups to examine different questions and report back out to the entire crowd.

Instead, Mrs. Kirnie and Business Manager Lisa M. Mitras fielded questions from the six participants.

Among the suggestions were to have district employees pay more for their benefits, discuss mergers with neighboring districts, eliminate the middle school, consider partnering with the Northern New York Community Foundation to allow individuals to provide financial gifts to the district and lobby legislators to allow the local Board of Cooperative Educational Services to teach electives that some schools might not be able to offer because of financial constraints.

District officials had also prepared a list of 10 items they wanted the participants to consider in order to save money. They included increasing the class size in all grades, eliminating the middle school, cutting all sports programs, increasing school taxes beyond the 2 percent property tax cap, cutting all clubs and keeping the buildings less clean.

They also asked them how they felt about getting rid of most high school electives such as business, forensics, art and yearbook, charging the community for use of school facilities, merging with an adjoining district or using more fund balance to close the financial gap.

As they prepare for the second forum, Ms. Mitras said they continue to work on their proposed 2013-14 budget.

Their latest draft shows a revenue budget of $19,516,516 and an expenditure budget of $20,629,647. It uses $505,000 of appropriated fund balance, leaving a gap of $608,131.

The first draft, which had used no reserves or appropriated fund balance, showed a projected revenue budget of $18,572,832 and a projected expenditure budget of $20,654,515, leaving a gap of $2,081,683.

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