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January 17, 2013

Schools facing financial insolvency

Local administrators talk about tough road ahead

(Continued)

MCS has built its college-level programming so that students can graduates with about 20 college-level credits, according to Livshin.

“We would hate to lose that,” he said. 

Hebert said managing a school district while keeping the budget within the state’s 2 percent tax cap is difficult.

“Just looking at the TRS (teacher retirement systems) and the ERS (employee retirement systems) contribution increases for next year is in excess of our 2 percent tax levy. I think that is the same for most school districts around here. That is a huge jump in that number,” he said.

“It’s difficult times for all governmental agencies,” he continued. “We are being forced to carefully consider every position that we have and every program that we have to make sure that we are getting the most for the taxpayers’ dollars.”

Livshin said he believes most schools will continue to keep budgets below the cap, but will go broke. He said most schools are three to four years away from fiscal stress.

“We are doing what the governor told us to do,” he said. “We are burning those reserves up and that cannot go on forever. There are some districts up north, for example, Fonda-Fultonville right off the Thruway, they are in big time financial stress right now. I don’t know what is going to happen. They have talked about consolidation, but every effort to do so has been voted down by community members.”

The only other option that makes any sense, he said, is the development of a regional high school. Livshin said the major savings from that would be in staffing.

Livshin has been advocating for equal distribution of state aid for a long time. He said there really is not a wealthy district in the region.

“Even Cooperstown in some sense is getting short-changed,” he said. “But places such as Milford, Laurens, Morris, Edmeston and Oneonta are really getting the short end of the stick in terms of equity … The gap elimination is a killer for us because they just take the money back.”

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