Onondaga (WSYR-TV) - According to the Central New York School Board’s Association, many schools are running out of places to cut costs and they’re being forced to consider closing buildings and consolidating facilities.
Without mandate relief and more state aid, 150 districts in New York State face bankruptcy within a year and a half, including 33 districts in Central New York.
A public meeting was held Tuesday night at Onondaga Central’s junior high regarding the possibility of closing Rockwell Elementary to breach a budget gap that is close to $1 million.
Superintendents across the board say that their districts do not have enough money.
“We’re looking at $1.25 million less,” said Onondaga Central Superintendent Joseph Rotella.
The Baldwinsville School District is examining the possibility of closing one of two elementary schools. Superintendent Jeanne Dangle says the district’s priority is to retain programs.
“Our goal is to say what we can do before we start cutting programs,” she said.
Meanwhile, Liverpool is discussing the possibility of returning to half days for kindergarten.
“There’s just not enough money to keep doing what we’re doing now,” said Liverpool Superintendent Richard Johns.
The Onondaga Central, Liverpool, and Baldwinsville school districts aren’t the only districts in financial jeopardy. The Central New York School Boards Association says districts are in trouble across the region.
“Our schools have been backed into a vicious and unsustainable process,” said Executive Director of the CNY School Boards Association Charles Borgononi.
He says that after three years of cuts in state aid, there are two immediate things that need to be done to balance schools’ budgets:
Mandate relief from the government would help schools save money on operation costs; and the state needs to make a new formula to fairly distribute what little state is available for districts.
“We're being disadvantaged, we're being left behind and we just don't have the resources we need to provide our kids with 21st century education they're going to need to be competitive in this global economy,” Borgononi said.
School closings are also a viable option because enrollment is down across New York State so districts could merge classes without making them over capacity.
Governor Andrew Cuomo set up a state mandate relief council to review the regulations that affect school districts and local government. The council’s first public hearing is Wednesday night in Albany. The council will travel across the state for public input.