2017
two thousand seventeen
Twenty-Seventeen
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By John Addyman

   CLYDE (APR 14 11) – Last night the Clyde-Savannah school board unanimously adopted its budget for the 2011-12 school year, but Schools Superintendent Theresa Pulos warned that without change, “I have doubts about our long-term viability.”
   Like other rural districts in Wayne County, Clyde-Savannah was floored when the state cut funding by $850,000. To make up for the lost revenue, the school board and administration pared back staffing to numbers more in tune with enrollment, voted to close the Savannah Elementary School, used the year-end fund balance, took money out of reserve funds and decided on a 2% tax increase to make ends meet. 


   The district will take back some special education students who had attended BOCES classes, instead providing for them within the Clyde-Savannah buildings – saving $360,000. Closing Savannah Elementary will save $300,000. The district will cut an administrator position, two aides, a clerk, a music teacher, a counselor, a Reading teacher, a .4 art position, a .5 phys ed position, one custodian and one cleaning position.
   At the beginning of the budget cycle, the school board was looking at a “rollover” (replicating all the programs and staff for another year) budget of $18.8 million, a $1.5 million increase over last year’s budget. Couple that with $850,000 less in state aid, and the gap the board had to close was about as wide as the Erie Canal.
   But after the cuts and months of discussion, what was adopted last night was a $16.8 million budget. The district will use $300,000 in unappropriated fund balance (what is expected to be left over when all the present school year’s bills are paid) and $200,000 from its fund reserves to help pay for next year, and raise the tax levy 2%.
   Voters will cast their ballots on the budget May 17.
   “This has been a very difficult time for our small rural schools,” said Dr. Pulos. But she added there is a silver lining, an educational program change that should be significant – the creation of a real middle school in Clyde-Savannah. “We’ve dedicated space to that, and it will be different from the junior high program we’ve had in the past.
   “But as excited as we are about the middle school, I have my doubts about our long-term viability. There must be changes made in funding and partnerships. We have to be doing more work as a region to offer programs to our students through shared programs, especially for our senior high students so they can get the same depth of program here that is offered in other parts of the state.”
   She said the time has come for a regional advocacy to develop. “We have to create a regional solution; the state legislature has to look at a regional solution to educate the kids. We need to have some aid mechanisms and some relief from mandates and restrictions that prevent us from doing some meaningful sharing that would benefit all of the kids.”
   Take a look at the faces of anyone on a school board these days, and it’s obvious the state has put a tremendous burden on these volunteers.
   Pulos has noticed.
   “It’s a taxing time for anyone who takes on the challenge of school leadership right now. On my board I’ve got very community-minded people who give up a lot of their time to make things happen for kids, and know they’re watching what it’s taken them so long to build break apart because of all the challenges we face. Through no fault of their own, our board members are facing the pressures we’re facing.”
   She noted that the next budget cycle, for the 2012-13 school year, could also be fraught with pressure and tough decisions. The state is making noises about a further reduction in aid. “The potential does exist,” said Pulos. “Things are very uncertain at the state level. We’d like to think we’ll at least have stable aid from the state – that would be a hopeful perspective.
   “Our goal through this whole process is to be a smaller but stronger, educationally viable school district. We know that’s going to take a lot of creative, out-of-the-box thinking to make it happen.”
   She said the district doesn’t have any choice but to do the best it can right now for every child. “We just can’t wait for things to get better.”
    

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