COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As schools reopen, many districts are not just grappling with health concerns, they are also dealing with a shortfall in funding. Some, especially those in lower income communities, are are forced to layoff teachers and non-instructional staff, too.
In the South Colonie Central School District, Superintendent Dr. David Perry told NEWS10’s Anya Tucker they will have to make some very tough decisions, which will impact everyone in their schools.
Perry said he is ready for a new, albeit different kind of school year. But even before they open their doors, he is forced to find ways to trim the fat from a budget that’s already in an emaciated state.
“It’s going to lead to the potential for layoffs. Its just how soon those layoffs come, in all areas. Not just instructional, across the board,” said Perry.
He’s not alone. Many districts are looking at drastic cuts this year.
So, how did this happen?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the coronavirus has caused a downturn in New York State sales and income tax. Schools rely heavily on that money for funding.
Districts had anticipated some cuts in aid.
In June, voters in the South Colonie district approved a spending plan to make up for an estimated $3.2 million deficit. But then came another hit: A 20 percent reduction in school aid statewide.
Dr. Perry said the amount they need has now risen to $5.2 million.
“$5.2 million is not an easy cut to make. We already made reductions over the past decade in programs and services for students. We are getting to a desperation time.”
He said everything is on the table.
“We are going to consider the use of reserves…of borrowing funds.”
They are also looking at furloughs and layoffs, and he said even the possibility of returning to remote learning district wide.
“Whether that is 7-12 only. Whether that is K-12. A lot of that is dependent upon the pandemic.”
With so much unknown, Perry said he is just hoping for something that vaguely resembles a typical school year.
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