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OFFICIAL CAUTIOUS ABOUT EXTRA STATE AID

An additional $272,286 in aid has been earmarked for the Starpoint School District next school year in the state's new budget.

But Director of Administrative Services Stephen J. Lunden told the School Board at a budget review session Monday that the district may only be able to get its hands on about $174,000 of that allocation in 2005-06.

Lunden said he has been analyzing the figures and found that some aid will be allocated based on current year expenditures for computer software and on student population growth.

Because about $98,000 of the increased aid will be based on those two criteria, he said he does not believe the district will get that portion of the aid because the district did not spend money on software and its increasing student population did not grow enough to qualify for the growth aid.

While he said he felt comfortable Starpoint schools will get an added $174,000 in aid, Lunden also said he is still going over the figures to make sure there are no other strings attached that might prevent a part of that money from being used for district programs.

Lunden told the board it will have to decide how it wants to use the extra money once he knows how much the district will receive.

He said it could be used to help avoid raising property taxes, set up a capital reserve fund to finance future construction projects or to add academic or other programs for students.

The board Monday began reviewing a $36.36 million budget for 2005-05, pared down from the original proposed $36.5 million spending package presented to the board last month.

The proposed budget represents a $1.7 million spending hike over the current $34.7 million budget, which officials say would keep all current programs intact next school year.

The board Monday night cut spending by $151,762. Savings were realized in eight areas recommended to the board by Superintendent C. Douglas Whelan.

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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