Even though some school districts are cutting less this year, education officials still say this is the toughest budget year yet. That's because this year is preceded by years of drastic cuts. North Syracuse eliminated 200 positions in the last three years. Our Katie Gibas tells us what students and teachers can expect for next year.
NORTH SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Creating a school budget is like a tight rope balancing act between how many cuts are sustainable in schools versus how much taxpayers can afford.
"Regular people are being priced out of their homes in this town," said Sam Galaster, a Cicero Resident.
Don Keegan, the North Syracuse Assistant Superintendent for Management said, "We cut 200 jobs in the last two years, and they're all good people that make a difference in kids' lives.
Last year, the district cut 67 positions and raised taxes 5%, but combined with the town-wide reassessment, one retired taxpayer said his school taxes went up more than 30.
"Trying to absorb such an increase was difficult to say the least. My wife and I went to one vehicle. I took a part time job, working 30 hours a week to help pay the taxes," said Galaster.
This year, the situation isn't much better. While the district saw an increase in state aid, it didn't make up for the loss of federal jobs money and sales tax from the county.
District officials are looking at a 4.7% tax increase and more than 70 position cuts.
"We're getting to the point now where we're starting to cut into muscle and bone, and it's really going to have a negative impact on kids if can't restore funding or start to do things differently," said Keegan.
Galaster said, "Where will we get the money to pay yet another 4.75% increase? I will vote no on any proposed increase."
None of the budget numbers are set in stone just yet. Board of education members will have the next few weeks to try to work out that balance between how many cuts can be sustained in the schools and how much they can charge taxpayers.
District officials will present a revised budget March 26.