TUPPER LAKE - It's budget time for the Tupper Lake Central School District, and this year, Superintendent Seth McGowan is doing things a little different.
Straying from the traditional board meeting format, McGowan said the district will instead hold an open-to-the-public information session on long-range budget planning at 6 p.m. tonight in the L.P. Quinn Elementary School library.
McGowan said the meeting will help the public understand the budgeting process and will help the board gather information on what is important to taxpayers.
"Our financial planners draw up a few different scenarios for how we should move forward financially speaking, and that gives the board different categories to think about in this year's planning as well as down the road a little bit," McGowan said. "It will also help the public understand that we really are thinking more than just one year at a time, and that we have some limitations and we have some requirements."
McGowan said the school board has been looking ahead while planning the district's budgets for the last five years. Financial consultant Chuck Bastian, who is with the law office of Bernard Donegan, has helped with that planning and will be at the forum to answer questions.
"Sometimes there are different categories of people and the way they want to see information," McGowan said. "Some people want a very detailed look at things, and some people want to get right to the bottom line. This meeting is more for those detail people, so they can see the percentages of this and that over the next five years, but we will do other things for the generalists, too. We're trying to provide something for everyone this year."
The meeting will mark one stop along what McGowan is calling his listening tour.
"I'm interested in taking a more proactive approach to public information," McGowan said. "Typically, once the budget is adopted, that's when I go out with my road show to various groups within the community to tell them what the budget is, as adopted by the board. This year I've already started with the teachers, but I hope to start making appointments with the various service organizations around town, as well as the local government, to give them the opportunity to share some ideas."
The listening tour will continue until the budget is adopted in mid-April. McGowan said it should give him a chance to explain the budgeting process in a more informal setting while answering questions and obtaining feedback.
"I want the community to really feel comfortable in talking to me or in expressing their thoughts and ideas," McGowan said. "It's our school, it's our community, and we should be working together for the best education that we can for our kids."
Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.