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Syracuse City School District to use technology to let residents share budget priorities

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The Syracuse City School District is hoping to use technology this year to let residents have a voice in the budget making process.

This year's annual public forum on the district’s proposed $470 million budget will be a little different.  Suzanne Slack, the district’s chief financial officer, said the district will be using an interactive program that people will be able to log into from personal devices, and have a say on spending.

"So they can go in and say, you should put more money into reading, and less money into math or science or athletics, or whatever they want to, and adjust the budget lines up and down," Slack said. "And then also answer questions on things in the budget so we get a better understanding of the community's priorities.”

Unlike suburban or rural school districts, residents in city school districts don’t get to vote on school spending. District budgets are approved by the city's Common Council. Slack said this is one way to get more feedback from families. She said between 30 and 40 percent of the district’s budget is discretionary, so there is room for priorities to be taken into account. Slack hopes this added input can lure more people to come to the usually sparsely attended budget sessions.

"I think a big part of this is people getting together and sitting at a table with your fellow citizens and talking about issues that are important to you," she said.

The forum will be held Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at Henninger High School.