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Lancaster school officials hoping to salvage programs

Lancaster school officials reiterated their hope Monday to spare programs and extracurricular activities from the budget ax that will have to address a projected $2.4 million deficit in the district’s preliminary budget for the 2014-15 school year.

School Superintendent Michael J. Vallely said the administration has received its “marching orders” from the Board of Education to preserve programs and co-curricular activities in the face of the budget shortfall, announced earlier this month.

So far, there have been no cuts to district programs, he said.

It remains unknown where the district’s administration will reach to close the $2 million-plus gap.

Former School Board member William Janiga said he appreciated the board’s intention to avoid cutting anything, but he also reminded board members that is a luxury in today’s economics.

“It’s a nice idea to keep everything … But in today’s world, that’s not happening,” Janiga said. “We’ll probably see increases in our taxes.”

But he urged the board to try to keep the tax increase minimal. “In these times, it’s getting harder and harder,” he said. “Keep taxes as low as possible and do the best we can.”

Board President Marie MacKay reiterated her hope for the district to keep programs intact.

“Hopefully, we can keep everything intact,” she said. “But as we close that gap, we have to be very conscious how much the public can afford … and also how deep the cuts can go.”

The board will hold a budget work session at 6:30 p.m. April 7 in the former Central Avenue School.