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Plattsburgh City School faces tough cuts

The Plattsburgh City School Board listens to a budget presentation by Superintendent James “Jake” Short.

The Plattsburgh City School Board listens to a budget presentation by Superintendent James “Jake” Short. Photo by Stephen Bartlett.

— Plattsburgh City School Board member Fred Wachtmeister would send a 13-percent tax-levy increase to the voters way before cutting positions and programs.

Sure, it would tag $70 more on the monthly tax bill of a $200,000 home, but it would save the district’s program from further cuts and reductions.

If the taxpayers won’t support it, fine, he says, but let them decide whether they want to eliminate programs and positions.

“I’m all in favor of not making any cuts and putting it in front of the voters,” said Wachtmeister at the March 8 board meeting.

Plattsburgh City School Superintendent James “Jake” Short and his administration must make up a $1.7 million budget gap.

Areas under consideration for elimination and reduction include 9-18 instructional positions and 5 support staff positions.

Programs that could be impacted include secondary course offerings, pre-kindergarten, music, Odyssey, drop out prevention, child advocacy, nursing, foreign languages, special education, BOCES services, secondary co-curricular, kindergarten and athletics.

Short stressed at the school board meeting that the budget is still under consideration and no final decisions have been made.

“This is just the beginning of where we are.”

Budget cuts seem to have become an unavoidable trend for Plattsburgh and other school districts.

In 2009-10, the district removed $600,000 from the budget; in 2010-11, $1,558,215; in 2011-12, $1,772,825; and in 2012-13 the budget gap started at $2.5 million.

Each year it becomes increasingly difficult for school officials to find areas to cut from the budget. And while some reductions were needed, many have been painful, Short said.

Short showed those gathered at the meeting a long list of items that have been cut which barely fit on the screen. He used it as an illustration of the whittling away of the high quality school the community built.

The school board has grown tired of the cutting process, Short said.

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