TICONDEROGA - Ticonderoga Central School District officials believe they're in a good position to weather the national economic storm.
Superintendent John McDonald said a district spending freeze instituted last fall, falling fuel prices and good planning should help in preparation of the 2009-10 budget.
Facing a $47 billion state deficit, Gov. David Paterson has called for cuts in state aid to local school districts, which could mean a $300,000 loss to Ticonderoga, McDonald said.
"We're assuming the worst; that's based on the governor's proposal," McDonald said. "I don't think that will happen, but it could."
That cut alone would mean a 3 percent tax increase, he said.
However, Ticonderoga administrators are hoping to finish the 2008-09 school year with a budget surplus that can be applied to 2009-10.
"The spending freeze we've had in place since last September has helped and so has lower fuel costs,"McDonald said. "We won't known for certain until June 30 when we close the books (on 2008-09), but we're hoping to have some fund balance."
This academic year the district eliminated field trips, asked parents to help transport athletes to events, stopped all new equipment purchases and limited other spending.
The district also caught a break when fuel, both for heating buildings and for transportation, dropped significantly.
"When we made our budget last year we had to plan on the high fuel prices at that time," McDonald said. "Those prices are half of what we budgeted."
Last year the Ti district cut five jobs. McDonald doesn't believe that will be necessary this year.
"I don't anticipate any staff cuts," he said. "Still, there are a lot of unanswered questions until we get a state budget."
The 2008-10 Ticonderoga school budget totals $16,669,482. The amount raised by local tax is $8,943,869.
Last year the the district cut $319,117 from its initial budget projection.
Most of that money, $191,947, came from the elimination of a teaching position, 1.5 library positions, two aide positions and a half-time teaching assistant position.
Other cuts in the 2008-09 budget included $35,000 for the modified B sports program and athletic transportation; $53,000 set aside for the purchase of a van and a maintenance truck; $25,000 for building repairs; and $14,170 for middle school summer classes and board of education conferences.
There is only so much that can be cut, the superintendent said, and still meet state regulations.
"Everyone looks at the revenue side of a school budget - taxes - no one ever looks at expenses," McDonald said. "We need to start looking at expenses. All the low-hanging fruit has been picked."
McDonald cited layers and layers of unfunded state mandates that add expense to education.
"A lot of special interest groups support these," he said of mandates. "You'll step on some toes if you try to end them, but we have to start making some hard decisions."