To the editor:
How infuriating that Saranac Lake Central School's first attempt to carry out its duty to engage in meaningful dialogue with our community concerning our upcoming budget decisions should be so thoroughly misrepresented in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise article published on Friday, Jan. 24. I cannot begin to understand how Staff Writer Matthew Turner could have come away from the meeting and in good conscience written a piece with such an inaccurate message.
The lead of the article is not true. There was no discussion regarding the fate of any of our programs. The facts in the article are not in dispute. The district has a significant problem: The difference between our anticipated revenue and anticipated costs is well over a million dollars. In past years this gap has been closed with decreases in areas that did not significantly affect programming. There is very little left to cut in these areas. Therefore, we are going to be facing some difficult decisions this year as we look to close the gap.
None of us is happy to be making these choices. But the school budget is no different than our home budgets. There's only so much to go around, so decisions have to be made. It is the economic reality that we can't be all things to all students. So make choices we must.
In order for all to make informed decisions, the budget process has been revamped to include a series of presentations at each BOE meeting examining different areas of the budget. These areas will be discussed in significantly more detail than in the past. Music and athletics were first in the series of presentations. No program is, as of yet - to use Mr. Turner's words - on the "chopping block." These decisions will not be made until we have examined all areas of our budget.
Although I work directly for the Board of Education, in a very real sense I work for all of you. It is my responsibility to make sure we are providing the best education we can afford for our students while understanding the financial pressures facing all of us in the community.
It is my duty to help the community feel confident that its local school district is providing the best education possible for its students. In order to do this, it is the district's responsibility to be transparent in all that it does and to provide information that allows our community to knowledgeably engage in dialogue regarding all facets of our school.
Since becoming a member of this community in July, I have been the first to tout the exceptional coverage the local media devotes to our school community. To this point, coverage has been an honest and fair portrayal of both our strengths and our areas in need of improvement. This was not the case in Friday's article. This is too important a topic - affecting everyone in our community - for the ADE to sensationalize. Report and interpret the facts. Report and interpret them honestly. Our community deserves nothing less from its local paper.
Superintendent of schools
Saranac Lake Central School District