two thousand twenty
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By John Addyman

NEWARK (Mar 30 11) – “Please be fair,” he said. “Make it fair across the board.”
   Eric Keller, a Newark village employee, told the school board he won’t see a pay raise for the next two years as the municipality tightens its belt. He understood that the school board needed to make cuts.
   He asked that the bowling team be spared, noting that professional bowler Doug Kent would step in get involved. He wanted to save the golf team, too.
   Jenna Howland, a high school art student, pleaded for keeping the art program – including the Advanced Placement Art course. Without it, her dream of a career in art was in danger because it would be that much more difficult to fulfill the basic college application requirement – a portfolio.

   George Stevenson said he was concerned about taxes going up in the school district, the Village of Newark and the Town of Arcadia. A former resident of Williamson, he said “I saw people driven out of their homes because they couldn’t pay their taxes.”
   Peter McKendrick suggested the school board release information now about which athletics and extra-curricular programs would be cut, so booster clubs would “have the chance to react and perhaps help. This is an obvious opportunity in the community to get more volunteers.”
   Tonight, more than 100 people overpacked the large-group room and had to be walked into the Newark high school auditorium.
   Subject for all that interest: a $1.39 million budget shortfall that has to be made up in the Newark schools budget. Schools Superintendent Henry Hann and Assistant Superintendent for Business Bob Fogel explained how things got to this point – with the main culprit a $2 million state aid reduction.  

   Last year when the school board hosted a similar forum, five people attended, and things were dire then.
   But tonight, a mix of students, community members and school district staff were on hand to ask questions and get some answers.
   School Board President Roberta Colacino and Hann explained the district was likely to take a three-pronged approach to diminishing the gap between expected revenues and anticipated expenses: staff and program cuts, a tax increase, and use of district reserve funds.
   Fogel and Hann warned that use of the reserve funds, of which $4.5 million could eventually be used, is a temptation to be avoided. The state is predicting more years at this level of funding, which means Newark will face a similar situation next year. Using reserve funds can go so far, then they’re gone.
   Colacino said two weeks ago it would be “irresponsible” for the board not to make some cuts, use some of the reserve, and raise taxes (something that hasn’t been done in five years).
   Indeed, resident Paul Cole asked about the sustainability of cuts and withdrawals year after year. He asked if the district had an idea of what the shortfall would be next year.
   “Our expenses will rise about $1 million next year,” said Fogel.
   “I don’t want to come back here next year and have twice as many people complaining about twice the cuts,” said Cole, expressing his concern about the “stability” of the district. He noted that Regents’ scores are down and taxes are going up. “This town is stagnant,” he said. “People are moving out.”
   “We can’t take a band-aid approach to this,” said Colacino. “This is going to be for the long haul.” In prior years, the board worried about the present year’s budget; now the board is looking farther down the road.
   Cole tried to pin down Fogel to get the administrator’s recommendations on how much the tax levy should rise, how much should be taken out of reserves and what further cuts should be made. Fogel demurred, and Colacino told Cole the administration could recommend, but the board would decide on a course of action.
   People rose to make suggestions. Mary Gooden asked what the bill for healthcare costs was in the district. Fogel said, “About $4.5 million.”
   “Teachers should pay some of that and we wouldn’t have to fire anybody,” Gooden said.
   “We have to contain costs,” said BJ Meeks. She asked the board for “truth – I want to see and hear the truth about where the cuts are coming from. In prior years we’ve had cost reductions of staff laid off at the end of June whom we hired back in July because of mandated programming.”
   Nick Santino felt that money left over from this year’s budget should be used to prevent some cuts or taxes or use of reserves. He, too, criticized the district’s Regents’ scores. “I’m not going to pay for a school district that doesn’t produce results,” he said. “This community is going downhill in its educational results. We are not reaching the educational outcomes we should. I want to hear what the board is going to do – not the school administration – and I want to hear it soon.”
   Hann said the low Regents’ scores were an unpleasant surprise. A new scoring/reporting system is in place and Newark kids did not do well, according to the numbers. “We will not remain there,” Hann promised. “We will move up. We are addressing those things with hard work and attention.” He said the district was on lists five years ago for Math and Language Arts scores. “We are no longer on any list.” He invited people to some back next year “so we can show you what we can do.”
   People were worried about what might be cut when the budget is finally decided.
   Donice Mulberry was also concerned that art classes would be sliced, taking away her daughter’s opportunity. She even brought an artwork sample to show what the district might be losing.
   Todd Howard told the board to give the “cold, hard facts” to the community. He wanted accurate numbers to judge from. Howard suggested the district work with FLCC to offer AP classes, make busing changes to cut costs, “and stop living off the fat and start living off what’s real.”
   Colacino told him the board’s numbers aren’t “puffed up. And we are looking at college and other community resources every day.”

   Monica Stadler, representing the teachers’ association, asked the board to keep budget cuts “as far away from kids as possible.” She mentioned the board was looking at eliminating 10 teacher positions, but no administrators. She asked the board to “carefully reduce any devastating impact to Newark’s children.”
   Board Member Joe DeSanto spoke at the end of the meeting, telling the audience, “We’re in this game because of wicked spending by Albany.” He said Newark has made sacrifices it felt were necessary in the past. “Today we’re being told to sacrifice. Our success has become a failure.
   “The Governor has said, ‘I’ll take all your reserves so you will be broke.’”
   DeSanto said the district has made sacrifices for the good of the community. “There’s not a board member here who won’t do the best for our students,” he said. “We’ll come together in the end. We always do.”
   Resident JoAnn Mincemoyer noted that the board and community “saw this (situation) coming. It’s not going to get better. It’s time to start looking at how else we can deliver services. Staff cuts, declining enrollment – that’s a fact of life here. Healthcare insurance, the state retirement system – need to be changed. Those are things the school board and teachers can lobby against. This is a unique opportunity to come together.”
   “I’m glad more than 100 people showed up tonight,” said Board Member Tom Ledbetter. “Albany says for the next four years it’s going to cut school aid every year. We will have to make fundamental changes every year. We have been abandoned by Albany. We have to work together and set an example in Newark. If we work together as a community, kids will not pay a price.”
   Next meeting of the school board is Wednesday, April 6. 



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  1. Anonymous Said,

    Nice to see people care....My suggestion: Cut all sports and focus on school. That means education.
    Sports have a lot of positives but, allow parents to raise funs as a club. Being in wayne county which is mainly republican. Is that not Republican enough idea. Stop tax dollars going for sport field equipment, fields, and transportation.
    Lets get back to educating first.

    Last FYI GE corparation made billions last year and payed no taxes. HMMMMM. This is where you start getting your help paying for education.

    Middle class better get their heads out of the sand this is the front line of the class war. Cutting public education. Also cutting teachers and staff salaries and asking for better results does not make sense. Its a catch 22. Where are the good jobs in our society.

    In our society money attracts talent.

    Posted on Thu Mar 31, 02:40:00 PM EDT

  2. Anonymous Said,

    Class War? Give me a break quit trying to divide us and lets work together to solve some of our problems

    Posted on Thu Mar 31, 10:34:00 PM EDT

  3. Johanna Hagen Said,

    I graduated almost 15yrs ago and have since moved out of the area,..back then it sickend me to see more and more sports and clubs coming up, yet our books where shabby, some even falling apart,..thats if we even got to be in a class that we were lucky enough to keep the book for the year. My class alone started out (300+ and ended out 100+). My point is, dont blame this on, 'all of a sudden, the last few years,..really. What ever happend to NEWARK RED SPIRIT that i was lucky enough to see and be apart of in previos graduating years (i had to older brothers in active sports), FUND RAISERS,.for sports and their events. Absolutely cut back on principals, christ sake, everybody knows that 'ol' time problem and what happens with 'to many cooks in the kitchen.'(figuritivly, and what happens when that happens),..sad part is this is on a much BIGGER SCALE!And blah blah, to all those that cry' oh dont cut this or this..then they need to come up with a creative solution how to fix it. (for example an 'artist' person, should be able to be creative, that'll look even better on her college app,her future(even at a 'piddle' job)the fact that that person has helped save a budget/program/etc.. how many 'striving' artists can this world really take.) Thinks its time for the student and teachers to take a look at old year books and even old videos of school events,..come up with ideas of fund raising, interveiw old students,.so on. They say its hard to teach an old dog new tricks(referring to students and facilty now)but the 'older dogs'(those of us from the past) can always still be a teacher.As far as the teachers, we'll they just need to try to 'look outside' high school, where will those students be 1-2, 5-10-15 yrs from now.Its good to keep them catching stars(sorry im referring to the future 'striving' artist,again, although that cant be the only 'star catching' career goal for a student) but at the same time prep them for the reality of the world. I knew when i was in school SCHOOL SPIRIT HAD WENT WAY DOWN WITH MY GRADUATING CLASS,WHO,WHY,..OK NEVER MIND THAT,..LETS FIX IT!(wish i could still be there id be more than willing to help)people dont like change, but change is long over due,.past students that have 'children' getting that age, and some are still in the area, would probally agree,..we need to keep our spirit for our kids,and keep their school!TIME TO RECRUIT THE OLD FACILTY AND STUDENTS, BY FB, PHONE,LETTER, etc,..I DONT WANT TO SEE MY OLD SCHOOL GO DOWN, I CANT BE THE ONLY ONE!(itd be awesome if you could pull some of in for 'observing' purposes,just to have a 'look' and see whats up.Even an ol' Mascot or two at a pep rally,..spirit is spirit,..AND NEWARK NEEDS TO FIND IT!and remember YOU ARE A TEAM, NOT JUST AN INDIVIDUAL,SMALL CLUB,TEACHER,1 CLASS, ETC..

    Posted on Fri Apr 01, 09:04:00 AM EDT

  4. Anonymous Said,

    If you don't recognize that there is class warfare in this country you are obviously in the 99% who own less than 50% of the wealth. If you're in the 1% who own the other 50% of the wealth, I wouldn't want to talk about class warfare either.

    Posted on Fri Apr 01, 07:02:00 PM EDT

  5. Anonymous Said,

    Pretty sure I am in your 99% but I don't blame others for my misfortunes. I think you should look up paranoid in the dictionary. But then I again I think you see what you want to see.

    Posted on Sat Apr 02, 06:20:00 AM EDT

  6. Anonymous Said,

    In reference to the Newark School budget:

    Go to seethroughny.com and click on payrolls and pensions to bring up the salaries of the teachers and administration. Total up the administration salaries and it comes to over $1,392,706. These are 2010 salaries so they are greater now. The average teacher makes about $50,000 per year, plus benefits, for working less than 160 days per year. With the deficit as it is, it seems there are lots of places to reduce it if they want without making any cuts in the students education or activites. Think about this, 76% of the total school budget goes to teachers salaries and benefits. It is time for a change.

    Posted on Sun Apr 03, 11:12:00 AM EDT

  7. Anonymous Said,

    I do not think 50k is rich. After having to get a master level education this seems a little low. A good teacher is worth a lot for they affect so many lives.
    As far as days a year worked this is deceiving when you add weekend and add time correcting and making lesson plans at home.
    Attacking teachers is not the answer. I feel sad that they are constantly under the scope as the fiscal problem. If public entities such as schools, hospitals, police did not have fair paying jobs where do people go for good jobs. Private sector please; you are lucky to find something there. These teachers spend the money in society so that it trickles down to all. The deserve more respect not less but, a need for more accountability is needed

    Posted on Sun Apr 03, 02:02:00 PM EDT

  8. Anonymous Said,

    Anonymous message #5
    If misfortune is meaning you were not born to a family that can pass wealth or opportunity to you through private schools both k-12 and college. or are you a example of lazy and ignorant.
    This country has become one of very little upward mobility. Wealth and opportunity is passed generation after generation creating lasting wealthy class. By the way teachers are not what I think of as upper midddle class.

    Plutocracy your vocaubulary word of the day.

    In my sister school in which she is a teacher in Olean. She use to ask kids to stand up and tell about what they did or went on vacation. She was instructed not to mention going places vacations anymore in class as so many kids do not know what that is anymore. SAD

    As she says big change in the last ten years.

    Posted on Sun Apr 03, 02:17:00 PM EDT

  9. Anonymous Said,

    This is what our kids have in front of them as other societies learn science. Sad to watch NASA stop space travel this week. Schools are the foundation of national security. Creating our future and the teachers are the key instrument.

    Posted on Tue May 03, 11:03:00 PM EDT


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