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Lakeland School Superintendent 'Confident' About 2014-15 Budget

Lakeland School Superintendent 'Confident' About 2014-15 Budget
Lakeland Central School District Superintendent Dr. George Stone said he is confident about the upcoming budget that will be presented to the public. Members of the Board of Education began the development of the 2014-2015 school budget earlier this month and will next meet on Feb. 6. 

"It is hard to believe that it's time already to begin the budget cycle," said Stone, who explained that for the first time in his four years at the district he was "excited" to prepare and present the budget. "I'm confident that the board and the community will be pleased with our final product."

Stone said there were a number of reasons why he feels good about the budget, including the district's "long range of financial policies and planning."

"We have established adequate and appropriate reserves," Stone said. "We have also maintained fund balances where they should be and we have kept careful watch on all of our expenditures."

He commended members of the audit committee for their work and credited the close working relationship with the district's auditors.

"Second, we have had a very good relationship with our employee units," Stone said. " Also were able to offer retirement incentives over the last two years that maintained the balance and new hires that have prevented the school from having to reduce staffing through layoffs."

Stone said he expects the district to receive state aid this year due to mandates and the Common Core. 

"It never seems to end up what we had hoped it would be, but it does promise to be better this year," he said. 

Yet, that does not mean the school district can spend considerably more, but what it means is that officials could balance the budget without having to fill a deficit as they've had to do in previous years, Stone said. 

In addition, Stone said he will not propose any layoffs or loss of programs, rather changes of staff will occur through attrition. 

"We are optimistic at this point as we start the process," he said. "We don't have all of the information yet that we need and or what the cap of our increase or the budget will specifically will be, but right now it looks like the cap will be under two percent."

Stone said he expects to prepare a budget that would include a budget-to-budget increase of 1 percent, which would equal to a 1.5-percent increase on the levy.

The next budget meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building. Items on the agenda will include the debt service, technology and employee benefits portions of the budget. 

The budget hearing is scheduled for May 6, while the district-wide budget vote will take place on May 20 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Van Cortlandtville Elementary School in Mohegan Lake. 

For more information on the 2014-2015 school budget,  click here.

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