Beginning of school year: A tale of two kinds of districts


CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The start of school is just days away for some families, but parents and students are still receiving last minute messages from districts on changes and how school will look either remotely or in-person.

Andy Pallotta, President of the NYS United Teachers, says a snowball effect began during the coronavirus pandemic after the state cut 20 percent of school funding across the board.

“Twenty percent cut in state funding affects different districts differently. So, a district like Schenectady, which depends more on state funding than say a suburban district like Bethlehem, they are going to be hit much harder,” says Pallotta.

While some districts are hiring — for many reasons, including staff leaving due to health concerns and others choosing early retirement — others are firing. Some are also deciding to shift even more students to remote learning days before the start of the school year.

“So they’re not starting remotely because they don’t have a mask policy or a social distancing policy. They are starting remotely because they don’t have the money,” added Pallotta.

That was the decision made this week in Schenectady: Shift all 7th thru 12th graders to remote learning.

“After our first aid payment from the state was shorted 20 percent that was about $600,000 and that was money owed to us from last year. If we were to forecast that out over this fiscal year, we would be looking at a catastrophic $28.5 million gap,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Aaron Bochniak, Ed.D.

Bochniak says that means they have had to postpone their pre-K program and will also be forced to make layoffs in positions ranging from cafeteria monitors to educators.

“But we know that there’s going to be deeper cuts that we have to make,” he said.

NEWS10 reporter Anya: “Are you hearing through the grapevine that other positions, not just teachers and TAs, are going to be cut?”
Pallotta: “Yes. They are making cuts to say bus drivers but these are all things to be seen.”

All to be seen as things keep evolving.

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