Monday, April 16, 2012

Everyone will be doing more with less

As many of you know from reading this blog and the district’s website, our school district is weathering a second straight year of decreased support from the state. Even after the Legislature restored some school aid, we were still left with a $1 million dollar budget gap to close. As a result, we will all be doing more with less next year.

Despite these challenges, the sense of community in Watervliet remains strong. I know this because as a community we’ve come together and made some tough decisions in recent weeks and I want to thank everyone who has contributed their time, effort and ideas to the development of the 2012-13 school budget.

  • Thank you to the Board of Education for your continued support of our teachers, staff and administration throughout this difficult and challenging budget process and for assisting with a letter-writing campaign to our representatives seeking additional state aid.   

  • Thanks, too, to the Watervliet Teachers’ Association (WTA) for negotiating in good faith to move to a new high-deductible health reimbursement account (HRA) that will save the district $500,000 next year—and a projected $3 million over the next five years. The WTA was also responsible for spearheading the letter-writing campaign to our state representatives to request fair and equitable aid for our schools.  

  • I am also grateful to the Watervliet Support Staff Association (WSSA) and the Watervliet Administrators’ Association (WAA) both of whom opened their contracts and agreed to make the new high-deductible HRA part of their health insurance plans, which will save the district $95,000 next year.

  • I appreciate the efforts of students and teachers who attended the Rural and Small City Schools Forum in February in Albany to advocate on behalf of our schools for more equitable distribution of state education funding.

  • Thank you to Mayor Michael Manning for the letters he wrote to Assemblyman Ron Canestrari and Senator Neil Breslin supporting Watervliet schools.

  • Finally, I thank the public for participating in the process by attending the community budget forums, sharing their concerns, asking questions and presenting ideas—including the suggestion to eliminate or consolidate bus routes, which will result in approximately $77,000 in savings that will allow us to retain one of the seven teaching positions that was up for elimination. 

None of this has been easy. The difficult choices we made in recent weeks required a lot of careful thought and input from many different perspectives. In the end, the reductions we have proposed in the 2012-13 budget will have a minimal impact on our number one priority: our students and educational programs.

The Board of Education will adopt the 2012-13 school budget on April 17. Please plan to attend the Public Hearing on the school budget on Tuesday, May 8 and remember to vote on Tuesday, May 15.

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