TUPPER LAKE - The Tupper Lake Central School District is replacing its broken in-ground bus lift with a new above-ground lift.
At a school board meeting Monday night, the board adopted a resolution to purchase the lift. Superintendent Seth McGowan said the board has discussed moving the location of the bus garage, so an above-ground lift makes sense because it can be moved more easily.
The district will make provisions in this year's budget to purchase the lift outright and will submit a revenue anticipation note to the state to offset the cost. The state Education Department will reimburse 78 percent of the total cost - $80,000 including installation - next year.
After state aid reimbursement, it will cost the district $17,600 in next year's budget.
The old lift broke down several times over the past few years, but now McGowan said it's beyond repair. The district has been using Saranac Lake's bus lift this school year for maintenance, repairs and mandatory state Department of Transportation inspections.
"The irony that we don't have any field trips going to Saranac Lake this year, yet we have buses going back and forth for service, is heartbreaking," McGowan said.
The lift purchase sparked a discussion about the district's budget between McGowan and board member Trish Anrig.
"I just think we're going to be in trouble next year as it is," Anrig said. "I don't see any alternatives to replacing the lift; we must do that. But we have no money."
McGowan said that is the reason the district needs a healthy fund balance.
"The only way we're going to get a fund balance back is to reduce our expenditures," Anrig said. "There's a balance between raising revenues and reducing expenses, and somehow we've got to get there. When do we start on this?"
McGowan countered that the district's spending isn't the issue.
"Even (the state Education Department) and the state aid planning office acknowledges that we don't have an expenditure problem; we have a revenue problem," McGowan said. "It's really a matter of where can we get more revenue from instead of where can we cut expenses from. Nothing we add to next year's budget at this time feels great, but there's no other alternative that I see."
Contact Shaun Kittle at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.