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Plattsburgh City School voters will decide whether to make more cuts

James Short

James Short Photo by Stephen Bartlett.

The school district is no stranger to cuts. During the 2009-10 school year, it saw $600,000 in cuts due to decreased state aid and rising costs. Reductions in recent years total more than $6 million.

Courses, athletics, positions, and equipment are among the things that have been cut.

“The board drew a line in the sand and was tired of reductions and is asking the community to vote,” Short said. “It is the community’s voice and the community’s choice.”

The 2012-13 budget before voters eliminates positions, reduces guidance services and summer school offerings, cuts spending for field trips and athletic, and contains other budget cuts.

“If the budget fails, we could go to contingency budget or present a second budget,” Short said.

A second failed budget results in an automatic contingency budget, which features no tax levy increase. That would entail many more cuts.

Further cuts would mean more layoffs.

The areas next in line to be eliminated or reduced include music, Odyssey, child advocacy, foreign languages, and summer guidance.

“We are seeing a shift in cost from the state to local communities,” said Wachtmeister, who says that is why school districts and taxpayers are faced with their current struggles.

Short argues that districts have seen no relief from unfunded mandates and that, in fact, they are facing new mandates they are not financially equipped to handle.

School officials said they hear from people who value education and want to support the system and those who are strained by taxes, and that the members of the second group are not necessarily anti-education, but have their backs against the wall financially.

Plattsburgh City School officials have offered to share and merge services with other districts to relieve some of the financial burden.

“I think the same economic climate will be facing the board for a couple years,” Short said.

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