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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Budget cuts not easy for board members

To the editor:

I am writing this letter to try and inform you, the taxpayers, on the budget reduction process. We, the New York Mills School Board, are a committee-based board, which means there are committees made up of three board members that are assigned to certain areas (finance, personnel, plant/equipment, policy etc.). This committee then informs the full board on what was discussed and makes a recommendation to the board. The finance committee was assigned to start the budget reduction process. They met several times over the past months and came up with a 1st draft of possible cuts, based on recommendations from the administration. As this was the first proposal, we are not going to discuss the reasons why or how it was developed. Always being conscientious of data privacy issues, sometimes there may be protections regarding these laws. The meeting on March 9th was designed to listen to the public's concerns and suggestions. Once again, maybe we could have engaged more in the discussions, but that was not how we chose to handle the meeting being we are still in the beginning stages of the budget proposal process.

New York Mills has always been a school district that operates with little or no fluff. And because of that, we have never had to make cuts like this before, as many other area school districts have had to do around us. So, this is new territory for us here and it is not fun! Nevertheless, this has been a learning curve for us as a board and administration and being we have always operated with "no fluff", it is imperative that when we have to make cuts, people's jobs will be affected.

The budget proposals are not 2 or 3 board members' ideas - the full board is in agreement (a majority) and we move on with that. I have heard the comments from people that "we don't care and are insensitive" - that is the farthest from the truth! This board and administration have worked very, very hard on this budget reduction process, and yes, we have learned from it and will hopefully be better for it. It is never an easy task when you have to make decisions that affect many people's lives and futures, and we don't take it lightly.

We are discussing the possibility of starting a committee to study and discuss budget reductions in the future (community members, staff members, board members and administration). We will have more information on that later.

One last topic I want to talk about is the referendum and why we aren't running one this year. We discussed this at great length at a board workshop in January and after the discussion we decided, based on the economy and its effect on the area, that we would make budget reductions before going to you, the taxpayers. We had several community members express their concerns on things they were hearing in the community about not being able to pass a referendum. If you, as a community, would come out and support a referendum, it sure would make this process a whole lot easier....but we are unsure that would happen.

In closing, I would once again like to thank the board and administration for their hard work and dedication to our district and our children! These are people who truly care and will continue to serve our district in always keeping the welfare of our students in the forefront. Please feel free to contact us on whatever issue you may have.

Tim Kupfer

NYM School Board President