Maine-Endwell Parents Concerned over Budget Proposals

By Erika Mahoney

January 18, 2013 Updated Jan 18, 2013 at 12:54 AM EDT

Town of Union, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Maine-Endwell school district faces a $3.8 million budget hole, leaving dozens of staff and extracurricular activities on the chopping block.

On Thursday, parents and teachers crowded the high school auditorium to learn more about the district's challenging financial situation.

There was plenty of disappointment on parents' faces as they wondered why the district was facing this situation.

It was a question officials tried to answer.

"The loss of revenues from the state created a situation where the district had to decide, in years past, whether they were going to cut staff or whether they were going to use the reserves they had to fund those expenditures," Broome-Tioga BOCES Chief Operating Officer John Harvey said. "The district chose to use their reserves and fund balance to do that, and now those reserves and fund balances are gone, so there's that structural deficit."

Harvey said unless the deficit is addressed now, it will only grow bigger.

The board has introduced two options.

The highlight of its first option includes cutting the equivalent of nearly 82 positions, and reducing music, athletics and high school courses.

The board's second option includes cutting the equivalent of 76.5 positions and eliminating all athletics and kindergarten.

Both plans would save just less than $4 million.

Parents said both options are disheartening, although some are happy the district is taking action.

"I have two kids," Joseph Garbarino, Jr. said. "One is a senior and one is going to be a freshman next year. So, obviously we are very concerned with the budget negotiations and the ramifications that means to the district. My wife and I are very happy that there's certainly a great deal of thought going into this whole process. Tough decisions have to be made."

A parent of three said she's worried her youngest daughter's educational experience will be different from her older sisters'.

"It's down right scary for me," Kimberly Kabrecque said. "This makes me queasy to think about what could happen to the school district we have loved for so long."

The superintendent said the board will continue discussions before the budget is adopted in April.

Until then, the district has scheduled five community meetings to address questions and comments.

Meetings:

Jan. 24: 6 p.m. at Maine Memorial Elementary Auditorium
Topic: Reorganization of Middle and High School programs
Jan. 30: 6 p.m.- 8 p.m.
Topic: Online Chat with Superintendent
Feb. 14: 6 p.m. at the High School Auditorium
Topic: Reorganization of Elementary Programs
Feb. 28: 6 p.m. at Maine Memorial Elementary Auditorium
Topic: TBD
Mar. 14: 6 p.m. at High School Auditorium
Topic: Proposed Eliminations of Specific Programs