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The Dansville Online
  • Community forum helps guide Dansville Central School District

  • To help bring awareness to this year’s school budget woes, and to hear suggestions from the public on how to tackel those issues, Dansville Central School District hosted a community budget forum Monday night inside the 7-12 building’s cafeteria.

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  • To help bring awareness to this year’s school budget woes, and to hear suggestions from the public on how to tackel those issues, Dansville Central School District hosted a community budget forum Monday night inside the 7-12 building’s cafeteria.
    About 20 community members attended, plus several school board members and administrators.
    School superintendent Paul Alioto began the forum with a half-hour PowerPoint presentation that discussed the following: what the district is doing to control costs and generate revenue; having reinstated positions this year that were originally proposed to be cut; next year’s enrollment projections; the governor’s proposed $361,000 state aid increase and the rise in uncontrolled costs such as utilities, salaries, benefits and others, which together exceed the governor’s increases by more than $1 million.
    He also expressed additional requests made by building principals to enhance instruction, stating, “Principals are advocating for the kids in their schools.”
    Those requests include shared curriculum and instruction; adding two reading teachers; a summer reading clinic; summer school; and the reinstatement of some math, social studies and English teachers, plus reinstating the school resource officer position.
    Alioto then broke the audience into six groups. Aside from members of the public, the groups also consisted of administrators, board members and  news reporters.
    The groups had 20 minutes to discuss their suggestions on what programs should be preserved; on how to do things differently that can preserve and improve programs while also saving the district money; and how the district can better communicate the budget to the public.
    Each group then presented their suggestions.
    Groups concurred that all academic programs need to be maintained.
    “We’re doing the same with less,” fifth-grade teacher Chris Mapes, who spoke on behalf of a breakout group, said. Alioto added that he believes the elementary school is  actually doing more with less.
    On how to do things differently, groups suggested contracting or consolidating transportation services; seeking funding through private organizations; selling the middle school building rather than leasing; looking into other insurances; merging with another district; save on mailing costs; apply for energy efficiency programs; renegotiate salary contracts; sharing teachers between districts; and others.
    On communicating to the public, suggestions included Alioto having a regular “meeting minute” on local radio, sending out prerecorded connect-ED telephone calls to parents to remind them of budget presentations, the budget vote date and changed polling location.
    Communication suggestions also included using web-based media such as email, Facebook and Twitter to make announcements; plus podcasting budget presentations. The group presentations lasted about a half hour.

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