Schools working hard to cut district costs, says Potsdam man
Friday, February 14, 2014 - 6:37 am

To the Editor:

In response to “What Have Local Schools Done To Save Money?”

This has to be one of the least informed letters I have ever read. Mr. Rivet asks if schools have reached austerity budgets? If you follow local news you KNOW that many local schools will be insolvent within a couple of years if not sooner. There has been a LOT of coverage of these issues for a few years now.

The biggest issue here is down-state politics. Local schools were always classified as high needs schools in the State funding formula. A few years ago, politicians in districts with more money lobbied to get their schools classification changed from medium needs to high needs. When that happened our local schools got bumped and lost significant funding. State wide we are in the forgotten land up here.

What have schools done? If you want to know go and ask them. There has been a lot of publicity about teacher positions being cut in the past few years. Potsdam’s middle school had 4 teachers for 8th grade and 4 four 7th grade two years ago and their schedules were full. They now have 4 teachers for both 7th and 8th grade. That is just one example.

While $100,000 for a merger study might seem like a lot to many people, there is a HUGE amount of details to consider. Some of the biggest issues involve combining differing union contracts and I’m sure lay-offs of maintenance staff will be an issue. People will lose jobs. How will transportation of kids change? Time on buses? Will there ultimately be a savings in busing or more cost? Is this study going to be done for free? If the study can be done for $100,000 effectively that seems like a pretty good deal. Spending $100,000 now to save considerably more down the road seems like a rather smart move.

The population of our region has slowly decreased for decades and class sizes are smaller than they have been in years. It makes complete sense to me to join forces and share resources to provide the broadest education possible for our kids. That is my opinion but I don’t know the reality of the situation because I am not an administrator. Perhaps someone more informed should make that decision after carefully studying all of the options and all potential challenges. Hmmmm... That is what they are doing.

I’m very confused by these two statements as they contradict each other:

“If combining two schools into one district is a great deal, why is $100,000 needed to study it? It’s going to leave both buildings in use according to what I read; that’s dismally small savings when you think about it; two sets of buses, heating costs, maintenance costs; where’s the big saving in that?

They are certainly planning to completely close one of the schools once the mergers and combining are put in place, and regardless of whether two or one set of school building exists, guess who will pick up the lowered taxes each building will pay? Us, the taxpayer, that’s who!”

Contradiction aside, what is meant by “who will pick up the lowered taxes each building will pay?” Schools do not pay property taxes on their buildings.

It is very easy to say we need to cut programs that are not required for a diploma. I’ve said that in the past but if we give up and cut schools back to the minimum required for a diploma we are destroying our children’s education. Cut these programs and I’m confident our drop out rates will sky-rocket.

One of the most important things to remember in merger discussions is that the quality of the children’s education is much more important than the loss of their school mascot.

Jared Carey