Binghamton proposal cuts teachers, programs

By Jillian Marshall
By Matt Hicks

March 19, 2013 Updated Mar 20, 2013 at 12:03 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) More than 30 positions could be eliminated from the Binghamton City School District, as officials look to close a nearly $5.3 million budget gap.

Earlier this month the school board set a maximum tax levy increase at 1.89 percent, which, if approved by taxpayers, would bring in $730,497; the remaining deficit will be filled by cuts to staff and programs.

The school district outlined a plan to cut the equivalent of 32.4 positions Tuesday night, which is expected to generate $1.7 million savings. This includes 15 members of support staff and three custodial positions.

The total number of positions affected are the equivalent of 54.9 -- which includes retirements, a savings of $1.2 million, according to the district.

In addition, four modified sports teams will be reduced and combined into two; intramural activities will be eliminated; charter busing will be canceled; general music for kindergarten through fifth-grade students will be reduced to once every six days, and; English language learner support will be reduced from being in four elementary schools to being offered in only three elementary schools.

Dozens of parents showed up to Tuesday's meeting, many of them expressing their concerns about the cuts.

"A good teacher is like a gem," Binghamton parent Dani Cronce said. "There's nothing better than a good teacher. They can make your students day and make them excited to go to school."

The cuts are also creating confusion.

"I feel like there's a certain level of, we're going to trim the fat first and get rid of the stuff that's just, just sort of a hobby," said orchestra student, Natalie DeBour.

Among the teachers on the chopping block: An orchestra teacher, who students and parents describe as popular.

"I love teaching here and I love the students here," said orchestra teacher James Hsai. "To leave them, it doesn't benefit anybody."

Binghamton has reduced its staff by 100 people in the past three years.

There is a public hearing on the budget on May 7.

Final voting on the budget will be May 21.