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Parents, students express concern over Mohonasen School District cuts

March 26, 2019 10:33 AM

ROTTERDAM – It was a packed house at the Mohonasen School Board meeting Monday night.

Parents, students and alumni came out to talk about the district cutting around 20 positions due to a $2 million gap in the budget.

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“For Mohonasen it's literally just about revenue and expenditures,” said Mohonasen Superintendent Shannon Shine.

The district said salaries and health care are costing them the most money. The said they’re not bringing in enough money to cover those costs, especially from Foundation Aid, which is money from the state.

“We're woefully underfunded,” said Shine. “According to the state aid formula, this year it's under $3 million. Next year if we only get the $80,000 in foundation aid the Governor has proposed, we'll be over $4 million underfunded per year, which is kind of astounding.”

Many people at the school board meeting were upset over the cuts to the music program. It would be one full time music teacher and one part time music teacher being cut. Superintendent Shine said this would mean fewer small group lessons and string instruments would be started in sixth grade, instead of third grade like they are currently.

One parents said this would’ve impacted her daughter.

“She would’ve missed out on three years of orchestra, she’s made it into suburban council orchestra,” said parent Tammi Crowther.

Another cut talked about Monday night is the elimination of six elementary school teachers. This would increase class sizes to between 25 and 29 students in grades kindergarten through sixth.

“The larger the class, the tougher it is to differentiate the instruction and provide the quality classroom program our kids need and they deserve,” said Christina Patterson, speaking on behalf of the Mohonasen Teachers Association.

But many at Monday night’s meeting weren’t blaming the school or the board for the lack of money. Instead they are blaming lawmakers and the Governor.

“I believe the problem is Foundation Aid and the fact that the legislature and Governor don't follow the law and funding the appropriate amount of Foundation Aid that we should be receiving,” said parent and teacher Liesha Sherman.

Even with cutting 20 positions, the district said there will still be around a $500,000 shortfall. The district is hoping that offering retirement incentives to teachers, using reserve funding and potentially getting more state aid once the budget is passed April 1, that will take care of the gap.

The school board will adopt a final budget in early April and then it will go out for a district vote in May.

Credits

Emily De Vito

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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