Friday, March 30, 2012

Difficult choices ahead

I am not usually one to look a gift horse in the mouth—after all receiving an additional $203,624 in restored state aid is certainly better than receiving nothing at all. 

But to be honest, as superintendent of a high needs, small city school district, I had hoped that with the school aid restoration, Watervliet would have received a more equitable allocation. Even with the additional aid, our schools still face a daunting $1.05 million budget shortfall. This shortfall is the result of rising costs and the significant decrease of $1.5 million in state funding we endured this year. Unfortunately, it now appears the only way left to close this gap will be to reduce staff and program.

Every district across the state—many less needy or some even considered affluent— received additional aid under the recent state budget agreement. And while, I don’t begrudge those other districts, I must question how our state legislators can say that the aid restoration was fair and equitable to small urban and rural districts—and the students who would benefit most from the additional funding.

While I’m disappointed in the end result, I am proud of the valiant efforts made by Watervliet’s faculty, staff, students, Board of Education, and community members during the past few months on behalf of our district, including a letter writing campaign, trips to the State Capitol to advocate for our schools, sending e-mails and making phone calls to our state representatives.   

Over the course of the next several weeks, many difficult decisions will have to be made and I pledge to provide open, timely communication to the Watervliet community, regardless of how bad the news may be.

Despite diminishing resources, we will continue to educate every student, every day to the very best of our ability.

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