When I drive past a lot where lots of school buses are parked, I always think, “oh, a bus nest!” In a way, that’s an apt way to look at the argument over education issues in New York state: It’s like a wasp nest, but with school buses. Complicated, loud, scary.
Anyway, a couple stories in the news today that caught my eye.
We cover education a lot here at North Country Public Radio, and the big story over the last year or so (and much longer, really) has been that a lot of New York’s schools, including many in our area, are under tremendous strain. Gov. Cuomo suggested yesterday in a speech at Clarkson University in Potsdam that schools should look for ways to save money, “and if consolidation is an option that works for a school district, God bless.”
Some schools in our area are exploring consolidation; others are fighting for more funding, but approaching what’s called “educational insolvency.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Cuomo’s education commission has recommended more time in school for children, including extending the school day and school year and expanding all-day pre-kindergarten.
So all these pronouncements are great, but on the “where are your kids right now” front, I’ll direct your attention to two stories from this week. First, from WWNY-TV, Ogdensburg City School District has decided, in the face of what the station calls a “looming budget crisis,” to close its Sherman Elementary School a year earlier than planned. The district has a $2.5 million budget gap this year, WWNY reports, and although closing Sherman will only save it $150,000, that’s not an insubstantial amount of money.
The school’s 116 students will go to school next year at one of the three other elementary schools in the district. And in two years, another school in the district, Lincoln Elementary, will also close.
On the upside (and of interest to people with children below school age), Fort Drum will be keeping a child care center open that it seemed it might have to close (via Watertown Daily Times). A civilian hiring freeze by the Department of Defense was making it tough for the Memorial Child Development Center to keep staffed, but after some clever reassignment of employees from other programs, it’ll stay open, albeit with reduced capacity.
The center cares for kids between six weeks and five years of age.