School districts' backs against wall

By Perry Russom

March 25, 2014 Updated Mar 26, 2014 at 1:55 PM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Union-Endicott Superintendent Suzanne McLeod says it's been demoralizing having to plan to cut school programs that were just added last year.

"You kind of put aside the things you would love to keep or that you would love to add, but it's all dependent on what the revenue picture looks like," said McLeod.

If the state aid coming to U-E stays where it is right now, the district will have to cut $500,000 in programs they added this school year. But, it isn't just U-E being forced to make the stressful decisions in balancing a school budget.

Officials from Maine-Endwell and Owego Apalachin school districts said they're financially stressed, too.

"I hope people realize that we really are trying to be responsible financially in times where it's very difficult," said M-E Superintendent Jason Van Fossen.

Owego Apalachin Superintendent William Russell said they're in a crisis as the state continues to reduce funding to public schools.

The district is looking to cut 25 positions in their upcoming budget.

Van Fossen said his district in the best situation they've been in the past few years after delicately balancing cuts across the district without gutting any one specific program.

He said they're trying to spread out some of the reductions.

Van Fossen said when students' favorite teachers have to be let go strictly because of financial reasons, the students and parents feel that loss.

He said while his district is seeing an increase in state aid, it's not at the level the district wants or hopes it to be.

"It's a balancing act because people don't want to pay more taxes and they want to see their tax bills go down, but we're dealing with increase costs," said Van Fossen.

M-E is planning to see a 0.9 percent increase in state aid in next year's budget.

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