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Facing a new budget adoption deadline of April 2, the Iroquois Central School Board on Monday began work on the 2001-2002 spending plan.

Superintendent Michael Glover told the board that because of rising enrollment and uncertainty about state aid, residents can expect to see an increase in the budget.

Glover noted that a universal prekindergarten program in the planning stages for this fall that would have been funded partially with a $12,000 grant will more than likely fall by the wayside.

"If all things were equal," Glover said, "I'd pursue it." But, he added, the money was not available.

The program is aimed at those that are underserved or not served. He said nearly 20 children in the district have been identified as qualified for the program.

A draft budget for operations and maintenance of $2,550,070, up 4.3 percent, was presented by Larry Bishop, superintendent of buildings and grounds.

An unusually bad winter and higher fuel costs have required the district to add nearly $106,000 for heating costs next winter.

Bishop said his utility budget is up $120,485, or 17.3 percent, due mainly to the large increases in the cost of natural gas.

This year, $252,611 was budgeted for natural gas, but next year $105,783 will be added for heat. The total utility budget is proposed to be $816,199 for 2001-02.

Bishop explained that he had to increase his budget for custodial supplies, especially paper products, by $12,000.

The board will review the budget, and it is expected to pare it significantly.

Glover said enrollment now stands at 3,025 but is expected to rise by 25 to 30 students next year.

Brad Masters, superintendent of transportation, also presented his draft budget of $2,089,000, up 3.6 percent. Masters said the budget includes the purchase of five new large buses, which keeps the district on track with its 10-year bus replacement program. Masters said he would like to replace one of two Suburbans owned by the district and update a computer.

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