School chief: You can't burn furniture to heat the building

February 06, 2019 07:29 PM

WATERVLIET - In the Watervliet School District, 75-percent of the funding comes from New York state. If any of that money were to be compromised, Superintendent Dr. Lori Caplan would have difficult decisions to make.

"My concern is, will my students have the people in their programs that they need in front of them?" Caplan wondered. "Will they be able to graduate with the same transcript that students in other zip codes have?"

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Caplan insists she's already trimmed the fat everywhere she can, and in the seven years she's been at the helm, her staff has learned to do more with less.

"We don't have an expenditure problem in Watervliet, we have a revenue problem," she said. "I have to be fiscally responsible to my taxpayers."

Especially in a community where 75-percent of the property is tax exempt, which means 25-percent of the population foots 100-percent of the bill.

"My concern is, what will happen?" Caplan reiterated. "I also know that the doors are going to open in September and I'm going to have people in programs."

School districts across the state share similar concerns. Education funding was a common threat at the State Capitol on Wednesday, where the legislature held a Joint Budget Hearing concerning elementary and secondary education.

"At this point, I'm certainly not proposing to take that $2.3 billion out of education," Assemblywoman Pat Fahy (D - Albany) promised.

Fahy says budget negotiations at the Capitol have just gotten a little more complicated.

"I can't say anything is off the table, but I will say it (education funding) remains a top priority," Fahy stated.

Meanwhile, Caplan says if she needs to make cuts, programs and people are the last thing that'll go.

"It benefits nobody to cut education," Caplan asserted. "We wouldn't be able to turn students out who are ready for the real world and they couldn't contribute to jobs and careers."

Fahy says she sees no reason for panic, although she's also concerned that the $2.3 billion hole could possibly get even deeper.


Dan Levy

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