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Decision No. 12,970

Appeal of BETTY A. LORIZ from action of the Board of Education of the Liberty Central School District relating to adoption of a contingency budget and a vote on propositions to add funds to the budget.

Decision No. 12,970

(August 2, 1993)

Gross, Gross & Gross, Esqs., attorneys for respondent, S. Richard Gross, Esq., of counsel

SOBOL, Commissioner.--Petitioner, a resident of the Liberty Central School District, appeals the board of education's acceptance of a petition to place eight propositions on the ballot for a vote in August 1992. Petitioner also challenges the board's decision to add $150,000 to the contingency budget for the 1992-93 school year. Finally, petitioner requests that I take action on the inclusion of the extra $150,000 in the contingency budget. The appeal must be dismissed.

Petitioner originally requested a stay of the vote which was scheduled for August 13, 1992. That stay was denied. I am now advised that on August 13, 1992 the voters rejected all eight propositions. This renders that portion of petitioner's appeal moot and, as indicated in past decisions, I will not address issues which subsequent events have rendered academic (Appeal of Froebrich, 24 Ed Dept Rep 441).

Petitioner's remaining contention relates to respondent's inclusion of $150,000 in the contingency budget. It appears from exhibits in the record that respondent added $150,000 to the budget to place security guards in schools to safeguard the students and staff. A board of education may include in a contingency budget ". . . those items necessary to ... assure the health and safety of students and staff." (Appeal of Ughetto and Brown, 12 id. 162,164; Formal Opinion of Counsel No. 127, 3 id. 260). Petitioner contends that respondent improperly added $150,000 to the budget without any public discussion preceding that action, and asserts that this violates the Open Meetings Law, Public Officers Law Article 6. The minutes of the relevant board meeting on June 22, however, indicate that the contingency budget was adopted by respondent in a public vote on that date. The minutes of the meeting held on July 27, 1992 further reflect that there was public discussion ". . . relative to $150,000 appropriated for security guards . . . ." This documentation undercuts petitioner's assertion that respondent's actions were not carried out in public session. Therefore, I conclude that respondent's contingency budget, having been voted upon in public session, was adopted consistent with the board's responsibilities under the Education Law.

As to whether there may have been some violation of the Open Meetings Law, as past decisions indicate, the Commissioner of Education is without jurisdiction under Education Law '310 to entertain such complaints (Appeal of Strober, 30 id. 4). Therefore, the appeal must be dismissed.

THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.

END OF FILE