What's the pandemic's impact on school budgets? | WNYT.com

What's the pandemic's impact on school budgets?

Paulina Bucka
Updated: May 18, 2021 08:19 PM
Created: May 18, 2021 10:54 AM

Capital Region school districts will be holding their school budget vote Tuesday. 

NewsChannel 13's Paulina Bucka spoke with several area superintendents about their proposed budgets. 

Johnstown Central School District:

"It was actually the last couple of years that we've been experiencing the really tough fiscal environment. The layoffs, the cuts all happened in recent years. The district has cut roughly 23% of its staff and teachers, over the past couple of years, since 2017," Superintendent Dr. William Crankshaw said. 

Dr. Crankshaw says in the last couple of years, morale has been bad. At one point, the district was considering cancelling athletic programs, extracurricular programs, and some of their other core programs. 

They had asked voters for a higher tax levy previously, almost eight percent, hoping that would help their struggling school system. However, as the district heads into the 2021 budget negotiations, the school district stands in a new light. 

"If there is ever a silver lining with COVID-19, it was a little helpful. We did experience some savings. We really took seriously the task of spending efficiently, wisely, and really planning into the future," Dr. Crankshaw said. "Here we are in 2021, and we are fortunate enough to be in a very good fiscal place moving into next year. We found ourselves with some unanticipated aid that came in from the state." 

Schenectady City School District: 

"Going into the school year we were certainly in a very unfortunate situation, because the state was expending a lot of money. It caused a shortfall in the state budget, which translated to a shortfall to the school district. The withholding in state aid, and the possibility of the withholding, could possibly mean cuts to our budgets, permeant cuts," said Superintendent Dr. Aaron Bochniack. 

Schenectady feared their trimmed down staff of nearly 400 fewer employees would be permanent. That breaks down to about 107 teachers, and 231 para-professionals or teachers aides. 

Class sizes got larger, and parents stepped in to really help with the shortfalls the district was experiencing. 

However, there is hope going into the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The school, like others in the Capital Region, is getting additional funding from the state and federal government. 

The state will be providing about $10.8 million in foundational aid as well as another $60 million from federal money. 

Learn how the districts are planning to utilize the money by watching the video of Paulina Bucka's story.


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