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Pelham Schools to Host Budget Discussion Tonight

The Pelham school district is hosting the second of four budget forums today at Hutchinson Elementary School.

Pelham school officials hope to continue getting the word out with the second leg of their four-part “Neighbor to Neighbor” budget forums.

The forums are hosted by Robert Eicher, the school board president, and Marti Arden, the board’s vice president, and are designed to educate the community about the budget process.

The first meeting, which was attended by a little more than a dozen community members, took place Tuesday at the Richard J. Daronco Townhouse. Eicher said these meetings were scheduled because there is a lot of misinformation in the community about the budget and the steps taken by the school board during its decision making process.

“What’s important is that the community knows the process and are able to provide input on the budget,” Eicher said. “That’s the only way they will be able to make informed decisions.”

The presentation that was given on Tuesday is pretty much the same presentation that will be given tonight and the two forums that follow.

The first part of the meeting will focus on the budget calendar and state laws surrounding the May 15 budget referendum.

The second part of the meeting will focus on the components that make up this year’s $63,189,318 budget, while the rest of the meeting will focus on the 2 percent property tax cap and the effect it will have on 2012-2013 school budget.

Pete Liaskos and his wife, Carrie, attended the Tuesday’s meeting. They thought that turnout for the event was good, considering that it was raining and the meeting took place on Thanksgiving weekend. They are hopeful that more people will show up tonight.

“I think it’s a good, important first step to increasing transparency,” Peter Liaskos said.

Liaskos suggested that the board set up a citizens committee to assist the district with the budget process. He pointed to Bedford, Blind Brook-Rye, Irvington, Pleasantville and Mamaroneck as examples of school districts that rely on citizen advisory committee to assist with their budgets.

“I want them to look at some of the advisory committees that other communities in Westchester have,” Liaskos said.

The last two forums are scheduled to take place at 10:15 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 inside the Pelham Public Library Community Room and at 7 p.m. on Dec. 14 inside the M.A.D. Cafe.

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