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Eldred school budget seen as viable; Months in the making

By Guy Charles Harriton
April 24, 2013

At school board meetings over the past three months, with Albany promising a tight budget for schools statewide, tears were shed over proposed teacher layoffs. There was speculation that the school would operate without a sports program and there was the specter of programs dropped. The situation, however, led Superintendent Robert Dufour into action.

Myriad trips to Albany, countless hours of telephone conversations to legislators, hard work and perseverance produced a budget, outlined at the April 11 board meeting of the Eldred Central School, that seems to meet the approval of the board, the residents in attendance and Dufour.

While at the past three board meetings, the tension could be cut with a knife and Dufour was put through his paces, the April meeting was just the opposite—relaxed and low key. A joke or two was thrown in for good measure.

Dufour was understated when he said, “We’re going to get by.”

The board wasted little time in passing a resolution for a $16.2 million education budget that will be put before the electorate on May 21. The budget includes an Easter surprise from Albany of an additional $366,000, which will be used to replenish the $700,000 that was borrowed from the reserve. The vote will require a simple majority in order to pass.

“All in all, we’re hoping to present a budget that is supported by the community,” Dufour said.

It seemed the major concern was voiced by resident Debbie Jennings, who noted the lack of a physics program at the high school level.

Dufour addressed Jennings’ concern by stating that there had been a physics teacher in the past at Eldred, but it did not prove to be cost effective. He related the story of a program that began with 10 students and was whittled down to two at year’s end. The contingency plan, according to DuFour, is that students who wish to take physics can do so at Sullivan Community College. The caveat, said Dufour, is that transportation is not provided by the school. He further said that an Eldred student can graduate with up to 24 college credits, the most of any school in Sullivan County.

Dufour is hopeful that an Eldred teacher who is diligently pursuing a physics certification will make physics available to Eldred students in the not too distant future.