CLAYTON The Thousand Islands Central School District wants residents to help it overcome a $1.2 million shortfall in its 2012-13 budget.
When you look at reductions in state aid, we have lost $3.6 million in three years, Superintendent Joseph A. Menard said. The district is currently facing a $1.2 million budget shortfall. As we stand right now, that would translate to a 12 percent tax levy increase, which is unacceptable, or the elimination of 17 staff members.
Mr. Menard said the district has eliminated 19 instructional positions 20 percent of its instructional staff owing to state aid cuts in the past two years.
If we eliminate additional staff, the district would no longer be able to provide a sound basic education for our students, he said.
To gather public input, Thousand Islands will put out a survey asking its residents whether they would support a tax-cap override if it means the district could keep student programs and adhere to what it believes is a reasonable increase in the school tax levy, among other things.
The district will invite residents to a letter-writing night at 5 p.m. Monday at the middle/high school library, 8481 County Route 9, to share their stories with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on how budget cuts have affected the rural school district.
A community budget forum will follow at 6 at the same location.
In his own letter to the governor, Mr. Menard said that the district has kept its school budget relatively stable at approximately $19 million even with increases in costs of pensions, health care and contractual obligations and that it cannot continue to see such drastic reductions in aid.
Governor Cuomo, it is disconcerting to come to the realization that the quality and breadth of a childs educational experiences will not be based on their effort and focus but instead will be determined by where they reside in the state, Mr. Menard wrote.
The district has lost a little more than $2.4 million since 2010 because of cuts in aid to help close the states budget gap and is expected to lose an additional $1,239,365 for the 2012-13 fiscal year under the governors proposed budget.
Mr. Menard said Thousand Islands has reduced spending in every instructional area.
To cope with state aid cuts since the 2010-11 fiscal year, the district laid off teachers in math, science, social studies and English at the high school level and cut an administrator. It also eliminated elementary librarians, elementary classroom teachers and the entire elementary reading recovery and high school business education programs.
The districts spending cuts resulted in the elimination of its special-area programs and several extracurricular activities and interscholastic athletic programs.
Governor Cuomo, you have stated that you are now going to be the advocate for the students of New York State, Mr. Menard wrote. With this in mind, I would respectfully ask that you give strong consideration to moving the $250 million competitive grant portion of your proposal into general aid. Currently, Thousand Islands Central School District does not qualify for these grants. And by simply moving these grants to the general aid, it would increase state aid to each school district approximately $357,000, if distributed equally.