It's a tough budget year for school districts across Upstate New York. Many are looking at high tax increases and position and program cuts. Monday night, the North Syracuse board of education approved a budget with a more than four percent increase and nearly 40 position cuts. Our Katie Gibas tells us what this budget will mean for those living and learning in the district.
NORTH SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- In Tim Bachner and Jessica Hosner's nearly four years at the Cicero-North Syracuse High School, more than 200 positions and millions of dollars have been cut from the North Syracuse School District's budget. And they say they're feeling the pinch in the classroom.
"It's been pretty hard to get focused with all the stuff because there's so many people, because teachers tend to not have as much time with you individually as you need," said Jessica Hosner, a Cicero-North Syracuse senior.
Tim Bachner, a Cicero-North Syracuse senior, added, "It's actually pretty tough because you have so many people in the classroom and certain people could struggle more than others, and you want to be fair to everybody."
Teachers took a pay freeze for the second year in a row, but it wasn't enough to save all the positions on the chopping block. The board of education adopted a budget with 39.7 position cuts, many of which are through layoffs.
"It's been a difficult experience, but one where we've been able to make changes that have certainly made us more cost effective, but allow us to provide really good programs for students that allow them to continue with a high student achievement," said Don Keegan, a North Syracuse Assistant Superintendent for Management.
But the budget is tough for taxpayers too. The board of education agreed to a 4.23 percent tax increase, which is about $89 on a $100,000 home.
"It is a tough pill to swallow, but once again, the key question is as a community, how much do we value education in the community. And if we do, what does that mean for us," said Kim Dyce-Faucette, the North Syracuse Superintendent.
District officials say because of the changing mentality in Albany, there's really not much more they can do locally other than cut positions and programs and increase taxes.
“The state, I believe is really saying that if communities value and believe in education, then you're going to have to start paying for that more than in the past," said Dyce-Faucette.
Now district officials will be going around the community to convince people to support the budget when they vote May 15th.