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Several years of careful spending in the Ken-Ton School District are being rewarded with a $3.6 million grant from the state.

The district is among four statewide that received a total of more than $21 million in efficiency savings under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s competitive education grants program. The others are Rochester, Newburgh and Queensbury.

Praised by Cuomo as “model school districts,” they will share more than $12 million during a three-year period, beginning this year.

“It’s not an open checkbook grant,” School Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro cautioned during Tuesday’s School Board meeting. However, he added, “It may be possible ... to start putting some things back” in the budget.

In recent years, Ken-Ton found numerous ways to save money.

Measures cited by the Governor’s Office include the consolidation of central office staff through attrition and a reassignment of duties to remaining staff, and changes in the district’s transportation program, which included last year’s proposition to extend the busing eligibility limits for students.

Districts “had to prove, with data, how you have made certain savings,” Mondanaro said. The deadline to apply was last June.

Noting that New York spends more money per pupil than any other state, yet continually lags in student performance, the governor said: “We cannot continue to ask taxpayers for more and more money; rather, our education system must become more efficient and focus spending on student achievement.”

“We must pay for performance, and the four districts we are awarding ... stand out as leading examples of where innovation and bold action can reduce inefficiency and unnecessary costs,” Cuomo said.

The state Department of Education initially told Ken-Ton officials that the district would receive a $1.2 million grant that must be spent by Oct. 31. Now, there’s $3.6 million to spend through 2015.

Exactly how the money will be spent is undetermined.

email: jhabuda@buffnews.com