Glens Falls administrators consider layoffs, tax hike
It's a problem shared by most of New York State's public school districts these days. Administrators in Glens Falls are stuck trying to balance a multi-million dollar budget, in the face of $1.8 million reduction in state aid. As our North Country reporter Matt Hunter explains, the results won't likely be easy on teachers or taxpayers.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
GLENS FALLS, N.Y. -- For teachers like Ann Walker, the threat of budget cuts and layoffs in the Glens Falls School District comes as no surprise.
"Since last year with the recession, I think we've seen it coming for a while, to be honest," Walker said.
With surging costs, declining enrollment and a $1.8 million reduction in state aid, district administrators are stuck between a rock and a hard place in piecing together a $39.5 million budget - juggling options like layoffs, a property tax hike and even closing an elementary school.
"This is the deepest I've ever seen it," said District Superintendent Thomas McGowan, who's held that post for the past 15 years. "With the state having seven to nine billion-dollar deficit, it really cuts deep. It's never been like this before."
Right now the district is looking at cutting seven positions and raising the tax levy by 13 percent. McGowan said administrators have already agreed to forgo a raise this year.
On Thursday of last week, the district's teachers voted on whether to accept a pay freeze. McGowan said the results of that vote will help determine whether the number of cuts rises or falls.
"How many? Without knowing all those factors, it wouldn't be fair if I said a number," McGowan said. "But it would more than what we've said and it will go relatively deep."
If the pay freeze is accepted, the property tax hike would also decrease to eight and a half percent, a bit more palatable to some taxpayers.
"Every time you hear about public employees getting laid off, everybody cries and screams. A lot of people are getting laid off, we've got to cut down taxes," Queensbury resident Leonard Biles said.
As administrators near the April 20 deadline to offer a final proposal, teachers, taxpayers and parents remain cautiously optimistic the cuts will have a minimal effect on students.
"Nobody likes to see it happen," Walker said. "But unfortunately with the economic climate, I think they're going to do as best they can."