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Education advocates from the Southern Tier stood in solidarity with Chris Reilly, president of the Jamestown Teachers Association, as part of a statewide "Day of Action" to appeal to local lawmakers for help in averting devastating cuts to this mid-sized district that serves a low-income city.
"We're certainly willing to be reasonable, but the cuts would be unreasonable," Reilly said. "We're an economically depressed area, and it's the children in our area who would be most impacted."
Jamestown faces a $6.3 million shortfall in its school budget, which will mean "significant layoffs and program cuts," Reilly said. A property tax increase of 1 percent would generate an additional $140,000 in revenue, so the school board is not even considering that option, Reilly said. Help has to come at the state level, said Reilly, a business teacher at the Jamestown High School. The prospect of layoffs comes just as Jamestown had started to make real progress in reducing class size, and Reilly fears those gains will be wiped out if teachers are among those targeted for layoffs - as they almost certainly will be.
"We haven't yet gotten the exact numbers from our district, but we are expecting substantial cuts," Reilly said.
Joining Reilly at the news conference was Superintendent Daniel Kathman; Joseph DiMaioa, director of the New York Association of Small City School Districts; Christina Schnars, president of the Chattaqua County School Boards Association; Ben Spitzer, president of the Far West Council of School Superintendents; and Michelle Waterman, president of the City Council of PTAs.