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Budget Worries Voiced at Board of Ed Meeting

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – The elephant in the room stirred Monday night at the Scarsdale Union Free School District Board of Education meeting at Greenacres School.

Parents and PTA members asked probing questions about the 2012-13 school budget and how it will be affected by the new state 2 percent tax cap . Some parents voiced concern over what they said was a lack of communication from the schools about potential impacts of the cap.

"We're trying not to obsess on the budget too early," said Superintendent Michael McGill. "We're trying to get some education done" before turning attention to the figures. "It's very much a concern to all of us, but right now we are trying to keep as much focus as we can for as long as we can on education."

McGill said the district would begin to conduct more public education sessions about the budget after Christmas. He did, however, toss out a few preliminary figures, saying that, just to preserve what the district has now, and accounting for increased costs, he'd have to find some $7 million or more in cuts to comply with the cap.

"I put together a list of cuts," he said, "and it's not a pretty sight. You don't want to see it."

Board President Jill Spieler said the district should use caution before putting too much information out for public consumption.

"We don't want to send out a list without an explanation," she said of potential cuts.

McGill said he would like to see the community take ownership of the situation.

"In terms of communication, the PTA is taking a leadership role," he said. "Members of the community need to advocate for or against" a potential cap override.

Public budget forums are planned for Jan. 11 and 18.

Prior to the regular meeting, the board met as the audit committee with outside auditors to review the annual audit findings, which were positive. The board later voted to accept the findings.

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