School board: Don’t believe budget rumors

SARANAC LAKE – Saranac Lake school board members say there’s no truth to rumors that they have already targeted specific programs and teaching positions to cut in next year’s budget.

Speaking at Wednesday night’s school board meeting, board President Debra Lennon said people are jumping to conclusions about the 2013-14 budget.

“Board members are hearing a lot of things, like that there’s certain names that have been affixed to cuts, and we haven’t had that discussion,” she said. “It isn’t coming from here, and I would caution people from starting these rumors and perpetuating these rumors.”

Lennon said one thing board members have heard, through postings on Facebook and elsewhere, is that the district is going to cut its art and music programs. That may be what prompted such a large number of supporters of those programs to show up Tuesday night for the final stop in the district’s budget “listening tour” at the Harrietstown Town Hall.

“We’ve got a whole contingency of people who think that art is on the chopping block, or music is on the chopping block,” Lennon told the Enterprise after Wednesday night’s meeting. “I mean, we have no intention of cutting art and music from our program. That is not going to happen.”

Board member Clyde Baker said he was talking to a teacher whose students were coming up to her saying, “Sorry you’re losing your job.”

“It’s just mean-spirited where it is coming from,” Baker said.

“I’m just cautioning people to try and sit tight,” Lennon said. “We’re working really hard on this budget, and as soon as we know, (Assistant Superintendent for Business) Dan (Bower) generally presents.”

The district has to close a $1.3 million budget gap to bring its tax levy in under the state’s property tax cap. Bower said school officials wanted to gather input from the public “before we talk about programs, positions, and certainly we’re not talking about individual teachers at this point.”