March 24, 2011

Across NY, layoffs, cuts in student programs proposed

Author: Matt Smith
Source:  NYSUT United

School districts and college campuses across the state are in the unenviable position of closing severe budget gaps. Services, academic programs and education jobs are all at serious risk. Here's an ongoing compilation of what's at stake when state support is slashed. It tells you in human terms why we will keep fighting for full and fair state education funding.

Higher Education

The State University of New York system is facing a 10 percent cut under the proposed budget, totaling roughly $685 million. Meanwhile, the state's community colleges may be forced to raise tuition, putting higher education out of reach for many New Yorkers.

Hudson Valley Community College in Troy would see its operating aid cut by $2.3 million under the governor's proposal; Monroe Community College is slated to lose $3.5 million. At SUNY New Paltz, which is contending with a $4 million budget shortfall, academic deans have been told to slash their adjunct budgets by 50 percent. The state subsidy to SUNY's teaching hospitals, totaling $154 million, would be eliminated. One-house bills passed by the Senate and Assembly would restore some higher ed funding.

Buffalo region

Officials in the Sweet Home school district, Erie County, have said staff reductions may be unavoidable. Under one scenario, nine teachers and a guidance counselor would be eliminated. Also, one position each in the elementary art, music, physical education and library departments would see their work hours reduced. Officials also have not ruled out closing elementary schools.

State aid cuts may result in the loss of 12 teachers in Silver Creek, where officials are facing a budget gap of $1.1 million.

In Jamestown, officials have announced the planned closure of Rogers Elementary School in order to deal with fiscal constraints.

Due to a possible loss of $2.2 million in state aid, the Grand Island school district has decided to eliminate its summer school program. Five elementary teachers, two clerical workers, a custodial employee and four part-time monitors may also be let go.

The Buffalo city school system is considering layoffs and closing buildings. The Niagara-Wheatfield district would lose nearly 18 percent of school aid. Superintendent Carl Militello said if the cut is allowed to stand, the district would "eliminate just about every single program other than what is required."

In Orchard Park, facing a $6 million budget gap, officials are reviewing all non-mandated programs for possible elimination, including kindergarten, gifted and talented programs and electives, as well as increasing class sizes.

The Hamburg school district, expecting a $1.4 million aid cut and $4 million deficit, may cut up to 26 full-time positions. Courses dealing with financial literacy and life skills are targeted for elimination.

The Cheektowaga Central School District is considering closing one of its two elementary schools — a move that may result in staff cuts.

The Fredonia School District, which is operating under a contingency budget, stands to lose almost 15 percent of its state aid. Superintendent Paul DiFonzo said the district is "running out of ways to decrease spending or generate revenue" and said as many rooms as possible are being rented out in the district's school buildings.

Rochester region

Rochester city school officials are projecting the loss of up to 800 positions, and anticipate a deficit as high as $82 million.

The Gates-Chili district is eyeing increased class sizes, program cuts and layoffs. The district already has closed one school and cut 100 staff.

Nearly 80 teaching jobs may be cut in the Corning-Painted Post school district, where state aid reductions would total $1.5 million. Cuts could include the elimination of all secondary teaching assistants as well as 64 middle-level and high school teachers, and 13 elementary school teachers. The district also might close an early childhood center.

Syracuse region

The Board of Education in Syracuse has passed a tentative budget that cuts 584 jobs and closes a middle school. The district is contending with a $47 million budget gap and the potential loss of $14 million in state aid.

The suburban Fayetteville-Manlius district may be forced to cut 14.5 positions from their staff — although officials have said the number may end up higher as the school system grapples with how to handle a proposed $3.1 million cut. Targeted for elimination are 6.5 teacher aides and assistants, five teachers, two custodians and downsizing the business office staff.

The Auburn City School District expects to cut staff, increase class size and raise taxes to make up for a projected loss of $4.3 million.

Albany region

Averill Park, outside of Albany, may see 60 positions eliminated. Those cuts would include teachers, administrators and support staff. "Every department is going to feel the cuts,'' said Superintendent Jo Moccia.

It's also a dire scene in the Mechanicville city schools, as the district struggles to make do with a possible loss of $1.1 million in state aid. The district is eyeing the elimination of junior varsity and modified sports, a principal's position and employee pay raises. There has also been talk of eliminating kindergarten classes.

Amsterdam city schools are targeting 33 positions for elimination. Included in those possible layoffs are 12 teachers and 21 school-related professionals. The Albany city school district — which may face a budget gap of more than $10 million — is looking at the loss of 126 positions. Add that to the 200 positions eliminated over the last two years.

North Colonie school district will likely close an elementary school and relocate more than 100 students. The Enlarged City School District of Troy, facing a budget gap of $8.5 million, is considering the closure of two elementary schools.

Broadalbin-Perth school district would lose more than $2 million. "I feel very sad for the kids in the B-P district. With this kind of cut, it's the kids and programs that are going to suffer," said Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson.

Ballston Spa Central School District, facing a $3 million budget gap, expects staff cuts to be unavoidable. At Schalmont, officials are recommending closing two of the district's three elementary schools. The Cohoes City School District is considering up to 23 layoffs — teachers, administrators and support staff — to close a $1.8 million budget gap.

Lower Hudson Valley region

Officials in Kingston are projecting at least 43 job cuts, including 28 teachers, 14 support staff and one administrator. Elementary school class sizes would range between 28 to 30, pushing them "to the limit," said Superintendent Gerard Gretzinger.

In Chappaqua, a plan to eliminate up to 33 positions would also increase class sizes.

New Rochelle Superintendent Richard Organisciak said this was the worst financial crisis in the district since the mid-1970s. The district may lose more than $4 million in state aid — 100 layoffs are planned. Those cuts would come on the heels of the 79 positions eliminated this year due to fiscal constraints. In Warwick, Orange County, the district is projecting up to 70 job cuts along with the shuttering of an elementary school. Port Jervis may eliminate up to 40 positions.

The East Ramapo School District, Rockland County, would cut up to 80 positions to counter a 10 percent loss in state aid. The district has cut 188 positions over the last two years.

The Yonkers school district, which eliminated 416 positions this year, would lose $17.5 million in state aid. The district might eliminate its prekindergarten program, which serves 1,629 children.

The Poughkeepsie school district is looking at cutting 90 positions, eliminating an alternative education program, cutting funding to non-varsity sports and reducing its full-day kindergarten to half-day to deal with an expected $9 million budget gap.

NYC/Long Island

New York City schools would lose $580 million and at least 6,000 teachers. More than 4,600 would be layoffs; the rest would be made up of positions going unfilled.

On Long Island, staff and program cuts are also expected in Westbury in order to make up for the expected loss of state aid there. Eighty teachers in Central Islip have been told they could lose their jobs.

The same message was delivered to 65 teachers in Herricks, 53 teachers in Amityville, 35 teachers in Center Moriches and 17 teachers in Jericho.

The Sachem school district stands to lose 30 percent of its workforce to deal with a $16 million loss in state aid.

Southern Tier

Chenango Forks School District, facing a $2 million cut in state aid, is looking at eliminating classes in physics, business and reading, ending fifth grade band and reducing or eliminating athletics. Forty-one positions would be cut, of which 36 would be layoffs.

More than 40 positions might be lost at Union-Endicott School District while Maine-Endwell is planning to leave nine positions vacant.

Facing a $14.8 million deficit, Elmira schools are weighing staff reductions, eliminating field trips and reducing bus routes.

Horseheads schools are trying to close a $9.2 million budget gap by eliminating summer school and some sports, and losing several teaching positions in elementary grades, foreign languages and in computer labs.