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Onondaga County schools make suggestions for shared services plan

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School districts across Onondaga County have met with County Executive Joanie Mahoney to discuss a county-wide effort to share government services. It’s a follow up to a meeting with local municipal leaders, in the effort to save taxpayer dollars through a state-mandated shared services plan.

Mahoney says a recent meeting with school districts was very positive, with officials immediately coming up with suggestions for saving money by sharing services.

“Everybody is in agreement I think that we should look at this as if we had a shared balance sheet, and saving money in one place isn’t going to help the public if it only increases costs somewhere else. What we need to do is find ways to reduce the bottom line,” Mahoney said.

One idea involved busing -- more specifically the cost individual districts have to pay to bus children to private schools or schools with special programs.

“Each of the districts doing it separately for a small number of children all added together is a seven-figure dollar amount,” Mahoney said. “But if we could work together to bus children in those smaller numbers, in special circumstances to private schools, or schools with special programs, then we could save the districts money.”

Mahoney says this is the time to tackle this issue, because a state law requiring shared services will match any savings that are achieved.

The first draft of the county’s shared services plan involving both local governments and school districts is to be released later this month. Following three public hearings and more revising, a final plan will be devised. The state’s deadline for a final proposal is September 15.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.