The region’s newspapers are full of budget pain today, and the most anguish appears to be coming from school superintendents.
They say Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s cuts are running smack into unavoidable cost increases that districts have to find ways to pay for. This from the Plattsburgh Press-Republican.
“That is probably about 11.5 percent on our tax levy,” said Malone Central School Superintendent Wayne Walbridge. “Those are just natural increases we have no control over.”
Rural school leaders say that despite Cuomo’s arguments to the contrary they’re not sitting on big fund balances that will allow them to soften the blow. This from the Watertown Daily Times.
“What’s most troubling, for our districts and most rural schools, is that they’re the most dependent on state aid because they’re the poorest districts in New York state,” said Jack J. Boak, superintendent of the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
“There’s no industrial base and the burden unfortunately falls substantially on taxpayers. Any cut in state aid is pretty dramatic.”
According to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, schools in the Tri-Lakes are bracing for cuts that could hit 5% of their total budget.
As a percentage of its local school budget, Tupper Lake, which is the most dependent on state aid among the Tri-Lakes school districts, would be hardest-hit.
Its aid would fall by 10 percent under the governor’s proposed budget, a loss of more than $820,000 that would be the equivalent of a 5 percent cut to the district’s general fund.
We’ll see how these proposals hold up. As NCPR reported recently, polls show that the public doesn’t like these kinds of cuts.
Quinnipiac’s Mickey Carroll says the survey finds 79% oppose cutting state aid to public schools. 69% say they don’t want health care spending reduced. But he says, those are the two biggest portions of the state budget.
“If you’ve got kids in school you don’t want school aid cut,” said Carroll. “The practical matter is these things are where the money is and the state’s in bad shape.”
So what do you think? Time for bigger class sizes and fewer sports and arts programs? Time to boost local property taxes?
And how about you folks living in small school districts. Is it time to consolidate, trading a bit of your community’s local identity for some cost savings?
Comments welcome below.