Schools aren’t counting chickens

Published 11:02 pm Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Suffolk School Board voted unanimously last week to accept Superintendent Milton Liverman’s proposed budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year. The budget totals $150,939,000, but still calls for cutting 104 positions and keeping school employees’ salaries at their current levels in the coming year. There’s no doubt the approved budget echoes our current economic conditions.

Additionally, the budget has $4.9 million added to its grants fund because of the money expected from the federal stimulus package. Since no direction has been given as to how the School Board can spend that money, Liverman advised the board to leave the budget as is until further information is given. Liverman made a wise decision to not start spending the federal money until there are more facts available. The School Board easily could have put positions back into the budget in hopes the federal money would shore up whatever deficit resulted. However, sound fiscal responsibility argued otherwise.

“It’s not our intention right now to see anyone without a job,” said Liverman, though the superintendent did acknowledge that receiving a substantial amount of federal relief could salvage jobs and potentially other programs whose fate are in the balance.

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The board will have to meet a least one more time in order to finalize the budget, once Suffolk City Council comes to a final decision about how much local money it will provide to the system. Although the budget process has a few more steps, it’s off to a good start. The proactive approach toward the fiscal health of our school system is encouraging.