Saranac Lake school officials plan budget ‘listening tour’

SARANAC LAKE – Saranac Lake Central School District officials are planning a “listening tour” of the community to gather input on the district’s budget for the next school year.

The Budget Advisory Committee’s first so-called “listening event” is set for 2:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Saranac Lake Adult Center. The committee includes members of the school board, administrators and representatives from the district’s employee unions.

“Members of the Budget Advisory Committee are hoping to gather feedback and listen to ideas about how best to proceed with developing a school district budget that best reflects the priorities of the community,” the district said in a press release.

The listening tour comes as the district braces for yet another lean budget. Dan Bower, the district’s assistant superintendent for business, told the Enterprise Monday that although the state is increasing school aid by 4 percent across New York, Saranac Lake schools would get $82,000 less, based on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal.

“Due to rising costs and reduced aid, we know we’re going to have to make up that difference somewhere,” Bower said.

Bower said he plans to outline just how big that budget gap could be at Wednesday night’s school board meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Petrova School library.

“It’s safe to say we’re in the same position we have been in the last several years, looking for ways to trim the budget,” Bower said. “In the past we’ve looked at personnel costs and not replacing folks who’ve retired.

“Our approach to this is to get a feel for, if we do need to make cuts, what are the priorities in the community for our education system. Are there things that people think could or should go, or things they don’t want to see touched at all?”

In addition to Wednesday’s session at the adult center, the Budget Advisory Committee will also hold listening events at 7 p.m. Thursday at Saranac Village at Will Rogers, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Bloomingdale Elementary School and 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the Harrietstown Town Hall.

For those unable to attend, the district has created a confidential survey. It asks people to identify programs, services or activities that they feel are high priorities for the district or ones that the district should consider eliminating or reducing. It also asks for suggestions for cost savings and increasing revenue. The survey is online at

For more information, contact Bower at 518-897-1402.