SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- The Schenectady School District must make another tough decision about its budget, and the superintendent is getting the public involved.
For the past three years, superintendent Larry Spring says the school district has been forced to cut more than $30 million, and is now facing a budget gap that is more than $10 million for the 2014-2015 school year.
"We've also increased taxes of course to try and fill in that hole. We've tapped into our reserves to try to fill that hole, but you know we've been cutting somewhere between $7 and $9 million every year," he said. "This year that hole is $10 million. We don't have any more reserves to tap into."
Over the next two days, the district has asked the public to look over a workbook it put together listing potential cuts to close the budget gap. The workbook asks participants to rate cuts as easy, tough, last resort or cannot do.
The potential cuts include cutting kindergarten classes, shortening teaching days, and eliminating athletic and art programs.
Other options also include enforcing a pay freeze.
The first workshop was held Monday evening at Howe Early Childhood Education Center. Around 70 parents and at least two students attended. Many parents like Kim Miller did not want to see music for K-6 taken away.
"I do think music is very important, especially in the earlier years," she said. "That helps a lot with their thinking skills even."
Senior Mark Soto was one of two student who took part in the workshop. He opposes the cuts to sports and physical education. He came to stand up for the students who would come after him.
"A lot of us rely on athletics to, you know, bring us to school every day," he said. "I'm the captain of the track team, so I think that's really important and it's important to schools, scholarships and colleges to see that."
While the district has cut $30 million in the past three years, it has also increased taxes. Resident John Fitzmaurice thinks the district may do the same thing again to close the $10.3 million gap.
"Somebody's going to lose their job, I think," he said. "Or taxes are going to go up."
Kathy Lewis is the school board presidents. She thinks the most devastating cut for parents will be the proposal to eliminate kindergarten.
"That would be rather ridiculous given that we have a pre-K program funded by grants, and then to have a gap and come into first grade would be really a loss," she said.
Spring said the outcome of the cuts rated by participants would have a major impact on the cuts that are ultimately made.
The next meeting is Tuesday at the Paige School.
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