School buildings could shutter without funds

By Erika Mahoney

March 1, 2013 Updated Mar 1, 2013 at 9:28 PM EDT

Town of Otego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Otego Elementary School second grader Shelby Boecke is too young to understand everything that goes into a school district budget.

But she understands what's at stake -- her entire elementary school.

In a moment of bravery, she stood before a packed auditorium to express her feelings.

"If we don't get money, schools may close," Boecke said. "Our school will be crowded and classrooms will change."

The room was full for a rally calling on New York lawmakers for help; help to keep the elementary school doors open and help to combat their overall funding crisis.

"Last year we had the same kind of problem and to balance our budget last year we had to lay off a tremendous amount of staff, teachers, and aids," Unatego Central School District Superintendent Charles Molloy said. "This year we are out of things to cut. We can not cut anymore."

Molloy is not along. Six different school districts were represented at the rally to send the message that New York needs a more equitable aid formula because everyone is suffering.

"The gap elimination assessment and other cuts have had an absolutely devastating impact and something needs to change," Windsor Central School District Superintendent Jason Andrews said.

Unatego High School junior Ryan Carson says he has felt the cuts for too long.

"I love history, and we've lost the Holocaust class and the archeology class and classes I would really like to take," Carson said. "Classes that were cut the year before I could take them."

He says he looks at the younger students, like Shelby, and is scared for them.

"The kids in the elementary really don't have a chance if this continues because this is the third year of us doing it. How long can we hold out?

It's a message everyone in the room hopes New York lawmakers hear.

Sitting in the audience was Sen. James Seward (R-51st) a member of the senate's education committee.

He says he is listening, and will aim to make sure aid is spent on schools that need it the most.

Her hallways are filled with color and snow boots, but they could soon be empty.

In an effort to prevent the doors from closing... School leaders, teachers and students filled the elementary school's auditorium to call on New York lawmakers for help.