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Clifton-Fine interviews superintendent candidates

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STAR LAKE — The Clifton-Fine Central School District Board of Education is interviewing superintendent candidates following an impasse reached during negotiations with interim Superintendent Susan O. Shene.

The board contacted four who were interested in the position in the past. Two were to be interviewed Wednesday, one turned down an interview and one postponed, said board President Michelle L. Durham.

The board wants to move quickly to have a superintendent in place by July 1. To become interim superintendent, Mrs. Shene took a leave of absence as principal in June and she has the right to return to that job.

Mrs. Shene declined to discuss the negotiations over whether she would be named superintendent other than to reiterate it was not about money.

At Monday’s meeting, the board adopted a $9.5 million budget for next year. The plan will likely not include an increase in the tax levy.

“That is the hope,” Mrs. Durham said. “I anticipate that to be the case.”

The board is trying to keep to the recommendations of a state audit in 2012 that criticized the district for overestimating expenditures by a total of $4.5 million over five years, which resulted in the levying of unnecessary taxes.

The district plans to use the fund balance and specific reserves to make up any budget gap. Newly released estimated state aid figures also project the district will receive an unexpected 5.5 percent increase in funding, from $4.5 million to $4.8 million.

In a message in the Bargain Hunter, a community publication, the Clifton-Fine Property Owners Association commended the board for its work on the budget and for looking at actual expenses to determine appropriate numbers.

As part of its budget for next year, the board is consolidating the transportation director and buildings and grounds supervisor into a single position for a potential savings of $60,000, including benefits. Mrs. Durham could not identify who will be named to the job because it will be a Civil Service Employees Association position.

The board looked at how school districts of a similar size handle the job before making the decision to consolidate, she said.

“With the declining number of students, it is something that is looked at every year,” Mrs. Durham said. “We think it will be a savings.”

The budget also does not replace a high school math teacher and an elementary teacher who retired.

Cuts made in the past in response to declining enrollments have meant losses of teachers and aides, but not in the administrative staff, Mrs. Durham said. The board is trying to maintain services directly connected to students, she said.

“The individuals we consider our responsibility are the children,” she said.

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