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City voters demolish budget, more cuts coming

PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh City School officials recently laid off 10 more employees and eliminated a total of 20 positions.

Those cuts are on top of roughly $6 million in spending reductions over the past few years, which have cost many jobs and whittled numerous important educational programs, but the public spoke loud and clear, school officials said, destroying the 2012-13 proposed budget (which carried a 5.8 percent tax levy increase) by a vote of 1,365 to 729 on May 15 and demanding further educational cuts.

The school board will put another budget before voters that carries a 2.84 percent increase in the tax levy.

According to New York State’s tax cap formula, the school district’s tax levy cap is 3.01 percent. The proposed budget needed to pass with a 60 percent super-majority to override the state cap.

Many people who attended the board’s last meeting spoke in support of the district’s schools and asked the board the preserve programs. There were also a few who asked district officials to make cuts.

Plattsburgh’s schools have slashed spending on education for years.

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.

Cuts in the spending plan voters recently defeated included the elimination of two full-time secondary English teachers; two full time secondary math teachers; one full-time secondary social studies teacher; the equivalent of one full-time monitoring position, one full-time grounds-keeping position, one full-time custodial position and two full-time clerical positions; five teaching-assistant positions; and assistant coaching positions for boys’ and girls’ varsity soccer.

School officials opted to surpass the tax levy cap because they were tired of cutting the district’s programs. They wanted to give taxpayers the option of preserving programs before embarking on more extreme austerity measures.

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