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Clifton-Fine School Board will meet to discuss options on failed budget

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STAR LAKE — The Clifton-Fine Central School Board will meet soon with two newly elected members to determine what to do about a proposed budget that voters rejected 234-135 even though the increase in the tax levy would have been just 0.01 percent.

Clifton-Fine was the only district in the north country to have its budget rejected Tuesday night.

“We didn’t do an exit survey, so it’s all supposition,” Superintendent Regina C. Yeo said.

The board met Tuesday after the results came in but wanted to include Ronald J. Eibert and Robert P. Tebo III, who were elected to the board the same day as the budget vote.

“The board wants them to be part of the discussion,” Mrs. Yeo said.

Although it is unclear why residents rejected the spending package, Mrs. Yeo said that prior to the vote, she heard that people were questioning an administrative change prompted by the mid-year retirement of part-time Special Education Committee Chairwoman Cynthia A. Healy.

The district’s proposal was to eliminate a full-time faculty position whose time was split between administrative duties and teaching business, and use the money to create a full-time math teaching position. A new full-time position was planned for the Committee for Special Education and for other administrative duties. The proposed administration position would mean an additional $30,000 of salary and $25,000 in benefits over this year’s budget.

The Clifton-Fine Property Owners Association took out several advertisements in the community Bargain Hunter to criticize the proposed budget and to advise the public to vote against it, picking out increased spending for administrators and other staff versus the amount of money spent on students.

Mrs. Yeo said she offered to meet with the association but they did not have a meeting scheduled.

Finding a part-time CSE administrator proved daunting in December when Mrs. Healy retired, Mrs. Yeo said.

The board will have three budget options.

It could present the same budget to voters, present a revised budget or adopt a contingency budget.

If nothing else, a contingency budget could remove $144,000 that was going to pay for an asbestos abatement project, repair of an elevator and various equipment.

“There wouldn’t be anything else that would have to come out,” Mrs. Yeo said.

The board also would have to decide the effect on the tax levy, or amount to be raised by taxes.

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