MADRID – Madrid-Waddington Central Schools superintendent says the district could be broke within five years.
The school joins a growing list of north country districts who expect to no longer be financially viable within several years.
Data indicates that if we are unable to replenish our reserves, due to continually increasing the amount of local fund balance that is applied to our budget, we could have approximately 4.3 years before insolvency, Superintendent Lynn M. Roy said Friday.
To prevent that, the district is working with state legislators to rework the state aid formula to include more credit for districts in rural areas. Children in rural, high-need communities do not have the same educational opportunities as those in wealthier, suburban districts, Mrs. Roy said.
The continued inequitable funding stream widens the divide between school communities across our state, leaving children in rural and poor urban districts at a disadvantage, she said. The current state aid formula does not give credit for those districts below the combined wealth ratio of .65. Madrid-Waddington is currently .515.
The combined wealth ratio is the formula used to determine how much a district can pay towards its students education.
If a district is below that ratio, we are funded as if we have more money and we have to make up the difference through local revenues, she said.
Madrid-Waddington Board of Education members have shared their concerns with state legislators, Mrs. Roy said. Last year Mrs. Roy and other north country superintendents talked with state lawmakers about aid inequities for rural, high-need districts.
This year, we hope to further inform our legislative representatives as well as our community leaders at a community breakfast in early winter after the governors proposed budget is announced, said Mrs. Roy.
In the meantime, the school board and administration will continue to work to develop a budget that compensates for the funding decline while supporting educational programs, Mrs. Roy said.
The district has applied several-cost saving measures in recent years, including shared administrators with Lisbon and Heuvelton Central School, reduced positions through layoffs or attrition in all areas. The district also shares a health teacher through the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
Elementary, art, music, health, drivers education, elementary counselor have all been reduced, said Mrs. Roy.
But junior and senior high school students have experienced a loss of electives due to staff reductions. Extra help programs have been reduced, as well as a loss of a middle school homework club.
The loss of program and staff indicate that we are closer to educational insolvency, or diminished capacity to provide the necessary educational opportunities for all students to be able to graduate with career and college readiness, she said.