Cohoes City School District facing financial challenges

Jill Konopka
Updated: March 04, 2020 09:50 PM
Created: March 04, 2020 05:56 PM

The Cohoes City School District superintendent is facing tough decisions, and the potential for staff reductions down the road.

Dr. Jennifer Spring told NewsChannel 13 they've been identified as a district of "susceptible fiscal stress" by the Office of the State Comptroller.


"What we need to do now is cap budget to budget growth from last year to this year at one-percent," she explained. "For last three consecutive years, we've had planned operational deficits where we have used our fund balance. We have used our cash reserves and this is just not sustainable for our school district. We are a cap of one-percent, we have budget goals, and we've involved all of our stakeholders in the school district - our teachers, our leaders our principals our board members in needs assessment and our top goal was obviously to keep growth to that one-percent and also to maintain and continue opportunities for students.  A one-percent cap is basically $1.2 million."

The situation is still fluid. Budget projections are coming April 1. Sixty-five percent of the Cohoes City School District budget comes from New York State Foundation Aid. The superintendent says they're already "bare bones," noting an elevator at the high school that needs $100,000 in repairs is on hold while they work through these other financial challenges.

In 2019, according to Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Spring, the district celebrated its highest graduation rate in a decade at 84 percent.

Dr. Spring says she is evaluating current class size and looking for efficiencies as needs assessments are being done in Cohoes, a district that houses 2,000 students and roughly 200 teachers. 

Spring added staff reductions - including teachers with the greatest impact at the Cohoes High School, could happen along with other movement and retirements.

Dr. Spring told NewsChannel 13 she has spoken to the people who could be impacted.

Dr. Spring added about seven teachers may end up leaving the district, but that number may change.

"Foundation aid may come in at a higher level than expected. Nobody at this point is being laid off, but I think it's important that people understand and have advance notice that I'm looking at all options, without sacrificing student success," she said. "It's our goal to continue to maintain opportunities for students and obviously we have to balance the needs of our students with what the community and taxpayers can afford and that's difficult."

Teacher and parent Bill Sheldon told NewsChannel 13, "We heard there definitely could be some and I think that the administration is doing the best they can to put a budget together to try and minimize those types of reductions."

Bill Sheldon has been a social studies and business teacher with the district 14 years and has a 10th grade son here as well. Sheldon added, "We don't want to see teachers let go or programs cut. Unfortunately, with the way things are, who knows what's going to happen, you know. They've got time to look at the budget and hopefully make some changes to save as much as they can. 

This will likely be discussed at the next Board of Education meeting on March 11, 2020.

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